Shakespeare was not born in India. If he were, he would not have said, “What is in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”.
If I meet Shakespeare I would point out, “Sir, even if calling rose by any other name does not affect its smell, it does not sound the same or spell the same and these differences have different connotations for different people”. Go and ask our celebrities who would place equal weightage on hard work as on the spelling of their names.
The celebrity is actually more obsessed with the composition of her name than what her name smells or sounds. “Success ke liye kuchh bhi karega’ is her mantra as she runs to astrologers, palmists, numerologists, tarot readers and parrot readers to work out what alphabet to insert or delete from her name to come out of the bad patch afflicting her life. Surprisingly, many name changer celebrities have hit the jackpot. And it has reinforced our nation’s belief in the composition of the name as an invaluable ingredient of success.
My page three specialist friend himself being a star astrologer argues, “It only shows the impeccable professional attitude of our celebrities. This is the age of professionalism. Every aspect of the celebrity from dancing to dialogue delivery to posture correction is taken care of by a professional. So, what is wrong if the composition of the name is taken care of by a professional soothsayer”.
Here in India Name is everything, not only in a spiritual context as popularized by the saying , “The name of Ram is greater than Ram”, but also in a social, materialistic and patriotic context as glorified by the common man, as well as the politician.
In a society that puts a premium on honour and reputation people would rather reduce themselves to ashes than see their name being reduced to dust. Being well known is like having a big name (naam bada), being disgraced is to get a bad name (badnaam), and tarnishing somebody’s reputation is as good as reducing his name to dust (mera naam mitti mein mila diya).
When we evaluate our post independent progress, along with population growth and advancements made in different areas of human activity we must give due weightage to the number of times we have changed the names of squares, villages, streets, cities, districts and states. Sometimes it becomes a politician’s first priority after assuming office so that he can tick at least one election promise as fulfilled.
In case a foreigner, who has not been keeping himself updated about Indian current affairs for the last twenty years, comes across an updated India map now, may assume that cities like Bombay, Calcutta and Madras have been gobbled up by the sea due to global warming.
Our swadeshi leaders would like us to believe that a more Indianised name is the first step towards reclaiming national pride. However, as globalised Indians we cannot sever our ties with all things English. While the Indian name of our country is Bharat, we have English abbreviations for all lengthy Indian names. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited becomes BSNL and not bhasanili, BJP rather than bhajapa is the more popular abbreviation and who would understand what you are saying when you refer the Biju Janata Dal as bijada instead of BJD?
Shakespeare apologists may counter argue, “But it is your Gods who justify his point. In your country every God of some reckoning has a thousand names. Yet, don’t you claim they are the same in essence?”
They may also lament the fact that in the western part of the world God cannot afford to have so many names.