Skip to main content

What's in a name? Everything... Especially these days, when communalism is at its peak

By Sheshu Babu*
" ...Accha hai abhi tak
Tera kuch naam nahi hai
Tujhko kisi majhab se
Koi kaam nahi hai
Jis ilm ne insaanon
Ko taksim kiya hai
Us ilm ka tujhpar koi
Ilzam nahi hai ... "
( .... It is nice that till now
You do not have any name
You have no relation
With any religion
The doctrine that made humans
Divided between themselves
That doctrine has no
Imputation or accusation against you ... "
( From Sahir's lyric in 'Dhool ka Phool' Hindi film (1959) 'Tum hindu banega na musalman banega
Insaan ki aulad hai insaan banega'
You will become neither Hindu nor Muslim
You are born of a human and you will become a human)

***
In a world where different identities are assigned to different things, human beings also have names to establish identity. But, no one is born with a name: he or she is given a name (along with religion, caste or gender) after birth. Thus, a human being is born as a human being but the individual gets social status after the birth.

History of names

The ' naming ' of a person, therefore, very often, attributes religion, caste, location and socio - cultural norms. This identity remains till the death. In an article ' A Brief Introduction to the History of names' by Scolastica la souriete (1997, Kristine Elliott, heraldry.sca.org), the author traces the old practice of names which have some descriptive meaning and the changes that took place after Norman Conquest (1066) in England.
Thus, names seem to have been modified with changing times. The Etymology of names gives history of lineage and the study 'onomastics' which touches linguistic history, the work and culture of ancient generation to which a person belongs and geographical location. Thus, the entire family history and the religious traditions can be traced by analysing closely a particular name and surname.
In another article ' Names and Personal Identity', H Edward Deluzain, (www.behindthename.com), the author explains how names are used to identify a person in society and community. As the author says, the bestowal of name is a symbolic contract between individual and society. The society, on the other side, recognises the existence and its responsibility towards that person.

Change in pattern

Changes in naming pattern started with the development of civilization and colonisation of nations. Different cultures began to merge and assimilate with each other giving rise to new names. With this, old style of naming began to be discarded. New names rarely give an idea of ancestry and lineage of a person.
These are 'secular' in nature. In the beginning, persons disliking old names began using 'pseudonyms' or 'aliases' to cover their ancestral identity, especially the lower strata of society. But now, many names are originally modern and do not connote a particular caste or religion or even geographical location.
Famous persons like George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), Lenin ( Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) and Mark Twain ( Samuel Langhome Clemens), etc. have rarely used their original names. They have adopted alternative names to conceal their identity.

An alternative

In these days when communalism is at its peak, change in traditional names and assuming new 'secular' or 'irreligious' name may have huge impact on individual and society. People all over the world should try to discourage hatred on the pretext of region or religion or caste and names may play crucial role.
Names also disclose the thoughts of parents and the individual bearer. So, naming of a child is a major incident in the life of parents and in general, society.
---
*Writer from everywhere and anywhere. When he ponders on the question, 'who am I?' , he receives some response in a lyric written by Bhupen Hazarika 'Ami ek jajabor':
'I am a gypsy
The earth has called me her own
And I have forgotten my home'

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Why crib? 4.5% is far better than pre-1980 'Hindu rate of growth': Subramanian replies

By Rajiv Shah
Even as sticking to his original argument that India's gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 has been overestimated by 2.5%, renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has said in a fresh paper that his estimate of post-2011-12 growth rate at around 4.5% is surely not "implausibly low", as some of his critics have been arguing following his controversial June paper.

UP's Sonbhadra killing of 10 tribals highlights 'failure' to implement Forest Rights Act

Counterview Desk
On July 17, as many as 10 people, including three women, were killed and 28 injured when a village head and his supporters opened fire on a group of tribal farmers in Ubha village of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. While the firing took place following a clash between over a land ownership dispute, it reportedly highlights failure of officials enforce Forest Rights Acts (FRA) and Survey Settlement in favour of tribals.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

22,000 children risking lives in India's 'illegal' mica mines, 10-20 die each month

By Rajiv Shah
An investigation by a high-profile e-journal run by a top American digital media and entertainment company focused on young women, Refinery 29 (R29), which based in the Financial District, Manhattan neighbourhood of New York City, has raised the alarm that 9,000 miles away, nearly 22,000 children are risking their lives while working for a paltry sum of Rs 20 to 30 per day in mica mines of Jharkhand and Bihar.

Govt of India seeks to 'subvert' autonomy of adjudicating authorities: RTI amendment

Counterview Desk
India's independent Right to Information watchdog, The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has said that the Government of India’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act to empower the Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners at the Centre and States “seriously undermine” the law.

None of India's ministries, departments have mining children on the radar: MPs told

By Our Representative
A delegation of two civil rights groups, Samata and mines, minerals and People (mm&P), has impressed upon several of India's members of Parliament (MPs) to discuss and raise issues relating to illegal mining, the Samata judgment, children in the mining areas and the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) in Parliament, adding, the issue of involvement of gram sabhas in decision making ought to be central for allowing any new projects in forest areas.

Demand to withdraw sedition charge against 30,000 unnamed Adivasis, activists

Counterview Desk
Every 10th Adivasi of Jharkhand’s Pathalgadi area is charged with sedition, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM), a network of activists and people’s organisations, which organised a protest in Ranchi in front of the Governor's house, has said. In a statement following the protest on Monday, JMM has called for larger support to stand up against violations of Constitutional rights of Adivasis and use of sedition law as tool for repression.

Introduced in Lok Sabha, amendment proposals a 'blow' to RTI's federal scheme

By Venkatesh Nayak*
In less than two months of returning to power, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA-III) government has revived its 2018 proposal to curtail the autonomy of the Information Commissions established under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). A similar attempt was made exactly one year ago but the Bill to assume power to regulate the tenure, salaries and allowances of Information Commissioners across the country was not tabled in Parliament.