What's in a name? Well a men's clothing store owner in India has found out that his choice of the name "Hitler" for his new shop was probably not the best business decision after causing a furor.
The Times of India reports the owner of a "queer clothing outlet" in Gujarat state is pleading innocence after sparking outrage for the name of his new store. The sign out front says "Hitler" with a swastika dotting the 'i'.
Rajesh Shah insists he named it after his partner's grandfather, who he claims was nicknamed 'Hitler' for being so strict. He also says he really doesn't know much about the former German dictator. "Frankly, till the time we applied for the trademark permission, I had only heard that Hitler was a strict man. It was only recently that we read about Hitler on the Internet. We have spent Rs 40,000 (about $700) on the banner, couple of other thousand on visiting cards and branding activity. We have run out of money now. We are willing to change the name if we are compensated for the board." He estimates total costs around 150,000 rupees ($2,700).
He tells AFP, “I didn’t know how much the name would disturb people.” “It was only when the store opened I learnt Hitler had killed six million people.”
But critics aren't buying it. The Times of India reports a member of the Jewish community visited the shop and says, "The proprietors knew what the name meant and what Hitler stood for. They had researched well, right from the dress the dictator wore to his cufflinks. We had suggested a separate design, but the proprietors claimed that the name brings good business since its launch a week back."
The IB Times reports some people believe Shah is exploiting the name because he remains a popular figure among many Indians. The Telegraph says the Nazi Swastika symbol was taken from Hindu culture, where it is still considered an auspicious sign. And Hitler's infamous book "Mein Kampf" is still a bestseller in India, with more than 10,000 copies sold each year, mainly to students. Others simply like Hitler because he fought the British that colonized India until 1947, two years after the end of WW ll.
The Times of India quotes Nikitin Contractor from the local Friends of Israel Organization, saying, "In the city of Mahatma Gandhi and non-violence, how can anyone celebrate a person like Hitler who is known to have murdered millions of unarmed ordinary civilians? We as a community had represented our concerns to the proprietors and we do not think they agree with us." "Youngsters need to be told of the atrocities that Hitler committed and the millions who were killed in gas chambers more than 70 years ago."
Israel's Mumbai Consul General Orna Sagiv tells AFP the embassy would raise the matter "in the strongest possible way." "People use such names mostly out of ignorance."