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What’s In A Name You Ask Mr. Shakespeare? Turn To India, Wait, ‘Bharat’ For An Answer

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By Kainat Sarfaraz

Renaming places seems to be the new favourite thing to do. When bored, change names. The demand that India be renamed as Bharat has led the Supreme Court to ask for comments from the Centre and State on the matter.

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Drafted by Niranjan Bhatwal, who claims to be a social activist from Maharashtra, the plea mentions that the public should have a “unambiguous understanding” that the country’s name is ‘Bharat.’ It suggests that even non-government organisations and corporates should be directed to use ‘Bharat’ for all purposes.

Bhatwal has further mentioned in the PIL that while naming country, the prominent suggestions in the Constituent Assembly were “Bharat, Hindustan, Hind and Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh and names of that kind“, and that the name India was termed in the colonial era.

Social activists are not the only ones to make such demands. Even our leaders are indulging in renaming just about everything. Be it roads, railway stations or even cities.

Recently, Mamata Banerjee was in the news for the same reason. The Chief Minister of West Bengal decided to rechristen six Bengal townships. Reactions to this have been varied across the spectrum; while some showed amusement, many in the virtual world expressed strong resentment.

According to reports, Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poetry anthology has lent its name to the twin cities of Durgapur-Asansol. Even cities like Bolpur and Siliguri have been renamed to Gitabani and Teesta respectively.

However this isn’t anything new. When Banerjee first came to power in 2011, she had put forward a suggestion to rename the state itself. The proposed name, Paschim Banga, did not resonate with the masses though. The name West Bengal stayed. But on 24th April, Kalyani became Samriddhi, Garia became Uttam City and Gajaldoba in Malda district became Mukta Tirtha.

It is ironic that in a country like India, which is plagued with various problems, some amid us seek to preserve our culture by going on a renaming spree. Often ignoring the perils that come along with it.

If we change the name of a city or a road, we alter its identity. This often leads to confusion among people who belong to that place and tourists who go by official names. Apart from this, other institutions too need to change their names if they want to keep up.

While the decisions may appeal to those who claim to be ‘saviours of our culture’, it won’t make much of a difference to most who still grapple with daily problems of basic livelihood. These steps only add to another insignificant change in the lives of masses who look towards their government with lesser hope and increasing despondency with each passing day.

You must be to comment.
  1. salman azmi

    The reason behind this is to save women of India from rapes and various other obscene incidents.According to the so called saviours of our culture, Rapes happen only In India and not in Bharat.

    You should probably rejoice instead of being cynical 😀

    P.S-Just kidding

  2. Shreya

    May be this link might give some argument against the writer of the post….and the healthy debate should continue without the communal coloration.

    http://www.ishafoundation.org/blog/lifestyle/bharat-the-power-of-a-name/

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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