“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”- This was said by Shakespeare many years ago. But the over-emotional enthrallment of mankind with names hasn’t gone by. The recent Twitterati debate around Taimur Ali Khan just re-enforces how obsessed we are with names. Given names were devised to identify individuals, but in due course of time it became more complex and a way to reassert religious and social identity. Although the urban India has tried to break the boundaries by re-inventing names, most people are stuck by divisive limitations.
Never in their wildest dreams, would Kareena and Saif have thought that a simple name of a newborn would stir the country into a ridiculous debate. The name of a child is the sole ownership of the family and no one has the least right to comment on what the parents and family decide. This event will be recorded in the history of mankind where the birth of a child was turned into a controversial and detestable moment. There can’t be a darker moment in India than when our fellow countrymen and women called a newborn baby a “terrorist”, “jihadi” and wished him dead. It was astounding and embarrassing how this non-issue was picked up so quickly all over social media. While the current FB and Twitter generation are busy beating their own records at stooping low, this event was unimaginable.
The objection was based on the fact that the Mongol ruler Timor Lang was a conqueror and massacred thousands, but isn’t it true for any ruler, be it Ashoka or BajiRao, Chandragupta, or Shivaji. Kingdoms and dynasties have been always made through conquers and over the bodies of innocents. Historical narratives are tricky things to construct, especially when people want to superimpose moral lessons on them. Who is a hero and who isn’t is extremely subjective and even more so when one goes as far back in time as the 14th century. The singling out of one name gives a clear indication of the religious angle behind this controversy. The distorted one-sided self-assumption of historical facts is not a new thing. The ideology has built a curious understanding of India’s medieval period, which it sees primarily through the lens of supposed invasions by Muslim kings and emperors.
The disagreeing hashtag generation of socially overactive people needs to research little more before commenting. The public outrage provides a mirror to all those who are chanting in the name of nationalism. These people who took no time in pronouncing a newly born as Pakistani should first become humans before playing the nationalist card. No nation would want such citizens who fall below dignity and humanity. Or else to simplify things, we as a nation should come out with a glossary of names and have a gala national ceremony to rename all. All other important social, economic and political issues facing the country can wait.