DECEMBER 23, 2000
Calcutta to become Kolkata
THE national government of India has approved a plan to rename Calcutta and that is expected to be a major boost for the plan to hold a Grand Prix near the city. Several of India's big cities have changed their names in the past but there has been little international recognition that Bombay should now be called Mumbai and that Madras should be called Chennai. Calcutta hopes that by hosting a race it will not only improve the image of the city but also inform the world that Calcutta will be known in the future as Kolkata.
Much still depends on elections which will take place in the Spring but the agreement of the government for the change is a big step forward for the ruling party in West Bengal. Opposition parties in the state had campaigned against the name change.
Calcutta was the capital of British-controlled India until 1911 but in recent years has become associated with extreme poverty and overcrowding.