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A Futile Name Change Game

Balvinder Balvinder
11 Sep 2023

BJP is now too well known for changing names of places/institutions/roads et al. 

Not so strangely, most of these brash changes have been made of those very names that had Islamic stamps on their origin. Obviously the aim has been on putting forward the RSS promoted and prompted Hindutva agenda, whatever that means! 

I basically being a non-political person could not gauge the reasons with which the BJP now has created a meaningless debate for changing the name of our country. From long accepted India to Bharat. Thank God for small mercies that none of them did ask for adding a suffix of ‘Maata’ to it!

Though both India and Bharat are accepted by our Constitution, the Hindutva promoting zealots, in authoritative positions, intend to get India, as our country’s name, deleted from the Constitution, which they perhaps consider as having a colonial imprint on it. 

But the term India “finds its roots in the ancient name of the Sindhu (or Indus) River. It was the Greeks who, in the 5th century BCE, began using this nomenclature to refer to the land beyond the river. By the 9th century, Old English literature mentioned “India”, and by the 17th century, the term had comfortably nestled into Modern English.

Strangely in this debate, Hindustan, another popular name of our country, is being totally ignored. No one knows what would happen to this popular and oft sung, with nationalistic gusto, poem  ‘Sare jahan se achha Hindustan humara’? 

And none knows the fate of 'Jai Hind' , the common official greeting, particularly of the defence forces, which has been used with great pride for a long time.

In 1907 Champakaraman Pillai coined the term "Jai Hind”. It was adopted as a slogan of the Indian National Army in 1940s at the suggestion of Abid Hasan. After India's independence, it emerged as a national slogan. According to Sumantra Bose, the phrase was devoid of any religious tones.

Many people whom I talked to on this issue do not find anything wrong if our multicultural and multilingual country is known by many different names. 

Perhaps none has ever grudged about one's own varied names; a 'registered' one, a childhood nickname and a name with which one's close buddies/colleagues normally address one! At times some use assumed pen-names also for various reasons. For instance Gaura Pant, a famous  Hindi writer, who was honoured with a Padma Shri, is known in the literary field as Shivani.

Do the supporters of the name-changing campaign know that the much revered lord Krishna, whose birth anniversary, Janmashtami, was celebrated last week with great fervour, is known by as many as 1008 different names.

(The writer is former principal of Chandigarh's first government college. Email: balvinder.artist@gmail.com)

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