Shakespeare was not born in India. If he were, he would not have said, “What is in a name? That which call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”.
Here in India Name is everything, not only in a spiritual context as emphasized by Guru Nanak Dev, but also in a social, materialistic, patriotic and pragmatic context as glorified by the common man, celebrity, the politician and the military leader. 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”. Of course he may counter argue, “But it is your Gods who justify my point. In your country every God of some reckoning has a thousand names. But aren’t they same in essence as you claim”. He may also lament the fact that in the western part of the world few Gods can afford to have more than one name.
For the common man his reputation and social standing revolves around his name. 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). 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.
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 so that the next project is a run away hit. My page three specialist friend himself being a star vedic astrologer argues, “It only shows the impeccable professional attitude of our celebrities. In this age of professionalism, as we have specialist choreographers to take care of dancing and experts of hair, skin, teeth, eyes, ears, hands, nails etc to take care of respective body parts, so we have professional soothsayers to take care of the names”.
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. 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 becoming more Indian. 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?