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Name change a game-changer?

Name change a game-changer?
Highlights

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, said the Bard in “Romeo and Juliet”. Centuries later and after being quoted millions of times in various contexts by different people, its underlying philosophy continues to puzzle ordinary and creative people. Can we simply alter the characteristics of something by changing its name?

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, said the Bard in “Romeo and Juliet”. Centuries later and after being quoted millions of times in various contexts by different people, its underlying philosophy continues to puzzle ordinary and creative people. Can we simply alter the characteristics of something by changing

its name?
I am not talking of people who change their names for the better or for the worse, depending on what the name analyst advises. By adding ‘a’ and deleting ‘b’ from one’s name, or repositioning letters in one’s name, can the exercise bring good tidings and move the fortune curve up? Those who have assumed completely a new name or changed it with minor alterations vouchsafe for it. Examples are galore, chiefly among numerous Indian actors and actresses, and, of course, those seeking fortune.
But does such luck work in the case of our political leaders who are more fond of changing names of streets, centres, institutions, towns and cities, including the capital, than their christened names. Post British era, a number of anglicized names of places have been changed, to give them a true desi flavour. It is an unending process because what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander in this country. Every lightweight and heavyweight politician has to leave his mark somewhere in the town and city by renaming a landmark or a road.
But, it doesn’t mean that a mere change of name will improve the place. Far from it. On the other hand, it may even face ridicule from opponents of name-change. Nevertheless, the show goes on despite the fact that it is only a gimmick to attract publicity without any tangible result. That brings us to the earlier stated fact that name is no more than identification and by whatever name you call an animate/inanimate object it will continue to have its inborn qualities.
If that is the case, can a title change from English to Hindi or Sanskrit improve the respective holder’s performance?
A lively debate is going on in both print and electronic media after acclaimed Hindi film producer-director Prakash Jha had suggested: Why not call the Prime Minister ‘Pradhan Sevak’ instead of ‘Pradhan Mantri’ and ministers ‘sevaks’? In other words, whoever is an elected representative is a ‘sevak’ of people. Basically, the word denotes (selfless) service and Mahatma Gandhi had epitomized it in his words and deeds throughout his movement for independence. Only after we achieved our goal, and adopted a Westminster-style Constitution, had our netas given an unceremonious burial to the concept of service to the people. In fact, for many in the political class the word is demeaning and its contextual use is reserved for the lowest of the orderlies.
In such a scenario, does a name-change help improve their work, attitude towards others and, more importantly, service mentality? “The whole notion of political leadership for Gandhi revolved around the central premise of service and, for him, a politician was clearly a sevak of the people,” the film maker is quoted as having told the Times of India. Symbolically speaking, he is right. Whenever the PM is addressed, instead of calling him ‘Pradhan Mantri’ one can call him/her ‘Pradhan Sevak’. That is, ‘Mantri’ goes, ‘Sevak’ comes to remind the person holding the office that he/she is a servant of the people and has been put in that place to serve the electors. Similar is the case with Chief Minister who becomes ‘Mukhya Mantri.’ It is more to do with the nomenclature that is supposed to work on the psyche of the elected.
If it doesn’t and political leaders insist on clinging to the old ways of being addressed with appendages like Sir, what can we do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. In social order, even now, like earlier times, honorifics signify certain authority and power. None in political class would like to lose either or both; and, as such, would love to be treated above others and it starts with how they are being addressed. The position Pradhan Mantri or Prime Minister is a hallowed post and carries a certain aura around it. By making him/her a ‘sevak’ and reminding the person of his/her responsibilities every second, the head of the government of the day may turn servile instead of ‘sevak.’
While the debate is raging in the cyber world, a few questions are bound to arise: If a mere name change can do wonders, like in some individuals’ cases, why such luck has not befallen our cities whose names have been changed? Sentimental or superstitious, they are what they were. Off and on a demand keeps raising its head to change our country’s name from India to Bharat to remind a billion plus souls of their hoary past and the need to preserve and protect it. Can’t we do it without changing the country’s name as it is our duty and birth right? It is the mindset that refuses to change!
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