We can do without the nomenclature epidemic
Renaming cities cannot be national priority. We have FAr MOrE wOrK tO DO IN tHE fiELDs OF HEALtH, EDuCAtION EtC.
The press conference that President Donald Trump held in the White House on 7 November was an extraordinary event. Here one saw the President of the most powerful country in the world bandying words with a media person from the CNN. The press conference was shown live in half the world, possibly 3/4th of the world. I have witnessed press conferences given by Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined a President of the United States conducting himself in the manner Mr Trump did. What was even more alarming was that Mr Trump seemed not in the least concerned or embarrassed by his undignified performance. What was even more disquieting was that millions of Americans approved of his unseemly act. Heads of States invite respect, even deference and esteem. For me, it was an agonising experience. It was one of those rare moments when the White House scenery collapsed.
At home we are witnessing a nomenclature epidemic. Cities are being thoughtlessly renamed. Ahmedabad is likely to be called Karnavati, Shimla as Shyamala and so on. Where will it end? Will Mughal history be abolished, will institu- tions established by the British be done away with? One cannot be sure of such heedless exuberance for such triviality. One cannot rule out a successor government restoring the old names.
We have far more vital work to do in the fields of health, education, employment, digital India. Surely, changing names of cities cannot possibly be a national priority. Only, blinkered patriots can engage in such activities.
No one in his right mind would oppose the right kind of progress (I do not consider the invention of nuclear weapons, progress) or the inevitability of change. But change has to be planned, managed, thought through. Monitored. P. N. Haksar wrote in his book, Premonitions, “Change we must if we are not to be left behind once more. Our country has had its devotees of Prem Marga and Bhakti Margs. Perhaps, our salvation lies through the much more difficult Jnana Marga. And this Jnana Marga must of necessity adopt the methodology of Vijnana.”
In another context Haksar wrote, “As for the value system, we have the ancient adage that human beings who are without vidya, tapa (penance), dana, gyan (wisdom), sheel (character), guna (merit, virtue) and dharma (prescribed code of conduct) constitute a burden in this earth…” How many of us ever think of these uplifting words?
The ruling establishment is busy denigrating Jawaharlal Nehru. The Prime Minister, while unveiling the magnificent Sardar Patel statue on 31 October, did not even mention his name among the makers of modern India. Nehru was more than an administrator, planner, a diplomatist or a politician. He was a visionary who had thought deeply about his personal predicament and how resolve it: “The real problems for me remain problems of individual and social life, of harmonious living, of a proper balancing of an individual’s inner and outer life, of an adjustment of the relations between individuals and between groups, of a continuous becoming something better and higher, of social development, of the ceaseless adventure of man. In the solution of these problems the way of observation and precise knowledge and deliberate reasoning, according to the method of science, must be followed. This method may not always be applicable in our quest of truth, for art and poetry and certain psychic experiences seem to belong to a different order of things and to elude the objective methods of science. Let us, therefore, not rule out intuition and other methods of sensing truth and reality. They are necessary even for the purposes of science. But always we must hold to our anchor of precise knowledge tested by reason…we must beware of losing ourselves in sea of speculation unconnected with the day- today problems of life and the needs of men and women. A living philosophy must answer the problems of today.”
These are noble and inspiring words.
BJP workers celebrate after Allahabad was re-christened as Prayagraj after the UP Cabinet ratified it at a meeting chaired by CM Yogi Adityanath, in Allahabad, on 16 October.