B for Bharat

Print edition : April 03, 2015


THE Bombay Natural History Society, a landmark institution formed in September 1883, has changed its name to Bharat Natural History Society. The ostensible reason for this alteration was that the Society’s name should reflect its national character. It is argued that for this very reason that the rules had been amended in 2012 and the logo changed to read BNHS India. Clearly, other factors forced the institution’s hand into replacing Bombay with Bharat.

In March 2010, about 50 Shiv Sena supporters vandalised the façade of the building and ripped off the letter B in the name. They also placed Mumbai over Bombay in the Devnagiri part of the sign.

Ironically, just days before the Sena’s destruction, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had gone on the rampage defacing stores of mobile service providers that did not have recordings in Marathi. Fearful of being overtaken at its own game of the “Marathification” of the city, the Sena chose to attack the BNHS. This despite Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being an avid wildlife photographer and a life member of the BNHS.

Public disapproval for this was shared in many fora and the BNHS repaired the disfigured B. But the institution had started working towards a change. At a special annual general meeting held in July last year, members voted to support the Governing Council’s decision to change the name to Bharat Natural History Society.

Lyla Bavadam

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