Monday, January 26, 2009

A rose by any other name

What if I were born in a suburban Mumbai family of someone called Vilalat Khan? Would my life have been the same if I had grown up as Zaheera? In today's 'MNS' times, I am afraid, if it were so, I might as well have been called to prove my allegiance to the nation I was born in, worse, to the city I grew up in and loved as my own. Far-fetched scenarios. Far-fetched-- but plausible and scary.

The latest bit of bossing from the MNS brigade has led to the change of name of a sweet-shop in Mumbai. From Karachi, it has now morphed to Jai Shri Krishna.

What's in a name?

In a name, is the right to sound as you want to, to reflect what you have chosen to associate with, and with that choice, many thoughts, many ideas are linked. When you are asked to change this, you are asked to give up your right to identity. The owner may have buckled down under pressure, and made a conscious, personal choice. But as a person sitting miles away, this change sounds yet another horror-tale of limited democracy, limited choice and a life that is dictated by fear and politics.

If politicians today have reduced patriotism to such a simplistic notion, if patriotism could be so superficially proven, lord save India.

Here are the two reports on the basis of which this post was developed:

MNS goes after 'Pak' sigh boards

Karachi Sweets to turn Jai Shri Krishna

Is your life now governed by fear of goons who vandalise store and maim people who they declare 'outsiders'? Is fear and prejudice that you want to give your children in legacy? Has the judicial mechanism of this country gone so feeble that people who voice such separatist ideas roam free and have the audacity to make such demands time and again?

Happy Republic Day...