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A Woman Named Swastika is Proud of Her Name and ‘Wouldn’t Change It for Anyone’

A Woman Named Swastika is Proud of Her Name and ‘Wouldn’t Change It for Anyone’

  • Swastika Chandra, 35, of Sydney, Australia, says “Hindus used it for thousands of years before Hitler used it in the wrong way.”

A 35-year-old Australian woman had bizarre experience due to her first name. Swastika Chandra of Sydney had her Uber account banned, as the ride share company filled her name as a “potentially offensive” word. The incident occurred last October, when “Chandra was putting in an order for food one afternoon. At the payment stage, she saw a pop-up came saying her “first name is in violation,” and that she needs to change her name of the app,” she told  A Current Affair, an Australian current affairs program airing weeknights and Saturday nights on the Nine Network. 

She told the program she understood her name’s association with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, but that she was proud of it and wouldn’t change it for anyone, adding that the community needs to know the word’s origins. “They don’t know that the Hindus used it for thousands of years before Hitler used it in the wrong way,” she told A Current Affair. “A bit of education, I think, is needed,” she added. 

She is “very proud” of her name, she told the TV program, noting that she believed in “the good that comes with it.” He name Swastika meant good luck in Sanskrit, and was “commonly heard in classrooms throughout her childhood” while growing up in Fiji, she said. She didn’t have any issues using her name on her birth certificate, her Australian citizenship certificate, her health care card and her license without any trouble.

After five months of back and forth with the company, Chandra finally got an apology from  Uber. In a statement to, the company said it had apologized to Chandra and acknowledged its review of the matter took longer than it wanted. “Uber is committed to facilitating a safe and welcoming environment for all users,” the statement read. “We understand that there are different cultural nuances to names, and therefore our teams address incidents like this on a case-by-case basis to ensure we evaluate each account fairly. In this case, after reviewing Ms. Chandra’s request, we reinstated her access to the app.”

The apology came with the intervention of The Hindu Council, Australia’s peak Hindu body, and support from the Jewish community and the NSW attorney-general, Australian media said. The Jewish Board of Deputies also backed her fight. “There is a difference between Ms Chandra innocently using her name and the deployment of a sinister symbol,” the organization told A Current Affair. 

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The Jewish Board of Deputies “welcomed” Uber’s decision to permit Chandra to once again access Uber services. “It is clear in the circumstances that there is a material difference between Ms Chandra innocently, and without malice, using her natural name and the deployment of a sinister symbol to promote hate or foster division.”

Meanwhile, the young mother is now being honored by the Hindu community for “her work in standing up to a global giant.” She also has a message for “all the other young girls who might have a different name to others,” she told A Current Affair. Don’t let the past be a stepping stone for your future,” she said. “Be proud of your name. It’s your identity — it’s who you are.”

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