A section of citizens and civil society members has urged the government to prohibit the use of the term ‘White Town’ to refer to the city’s French Quarter.
The collective demand surfaced at a recent guide orientation programme hosted by the Puducherry Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) when participants unanimously agreed to put an end to the use of a ‘racial and derogatory term White town with immediate effect’.
In an e-mail petition to Tourism Minister K. Lakshminarayanan and the PTDC, Sunaina Mandeen, an associate of the Pondy Citizens’ Action Network (PondyCAN), who was part of the orientation session, urged the government to issue a directive to all tourism operators along with a gazette notification prohibiting the use of the term ‘White town’.
Pointing to the increasing use of the term ‘White Town’ to describe not just the French Heritage town which is between the Beach road and Canal but the entire Boulevard town, a trend adopted by all tourist information, and even addresses and locations on Google maps, she wanted the government to formally notify Google to either use the terms Boulevard Town or French Heritage Town in all their descriptors, brochures and promotion.
In fact, the term is also used by some restaurants-establishments in the Boulevard.
“People need to know that we have a heritage Boulevard town between the four boulevards with the beach road on the east, the west boulevard or Anna Salai on the west, the north boulevard or S.V. Patel Salai on the north and the south boulevard or Subbaiah Salai on the south. Further, the part between the beach road and canal is the French heritage town,” Ms. Mandeen said.
When she had brought this issue up a few years back with the administration, she had been told that some tourist operators and persons in the hospitality sector liked to refer to it in this derogatory manner.
“I sincerely hope that giving this to you here in writing after this unanimous decision taken by all present that day during your (PTDC) orientation course will result in some action and we can all proudly call the areas by what they represent and not be influenced by some racial and colonial holdover from the past,” the mail to the Tourism Minister stated.