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

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.