Irritating Infinite Idiocy: What is in a name?

Bhaskar Majumder

All of my readers heard about “poverty line’’ and none of my readers heard about “stupidity line’’. Now I may draw their attention to this new line – there were/are people unemployed or not really engaged in activities that contribute to the society or humanity. Some such people proposed to change the name of our country from India to Bharat probably because of prolonged lockdown the mindset got locked and then unlocked as per Advisory and hence the proposal of new name came from the locker that will change the face of India that is Bharat. Somebody should tell them, a rose is a rose.....

Now the rose (ball) may be in the Apex Court or in the Parliament for some may get pleasure in this game. If nothing can be done positive, do something negative that ignites the devil’s mind or do something that reflects nuisance value. If one asks me which value is most valuable, use-value, or exchange-value, or existence-value, I shall immediately respond, “none of the above’’. Then which value? It is nuisance value. My readers may test it drawing examples from any domain – a research institute may not carry much value but a University must, if not for any research value-addition but because of unrest in the University/campus. This may vary in direct proportion like nuisance value in police may be stronger than nuisance value in University and all that.

Let me come back to Bharat question. What after 73 years do we expect to derive or attain any goal if India is made Bharat? Already we made it Aatmonirbharsil, we made it “Make in India’’ from “Made in India’’, even post-Rafale. So what is new? And innocent people will accept even if the new name bottles the old wine.

Long back twin concepts and their implicit differences came on India and Bharat – elite class and cattle class. Some intermediaries got vanished in that frame like the Urban Naxals, the armchair intellectuals, the activists and public intellectuals and all those. Bharat walked and still walks – cattle after all.

I do not know who proposed a shift from India to Bharat – I do not like to know also for in a limited allowed life-span it is impossible to reach ‘Sarvo Vidya’ (knowing everything). So why do I respond? This is for the minimum reason that I belong to Bharat and I don’t find any reason why and how my insecurity will evaporate by vanishing of the term India – the geography of India or Bharat will remain unchanged, of course. Many components of India that is Bharat got their names changed of course with not much opposition like Bangalore to Bangaloru, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai, Bombay to Mumbai, Allahabad to Prayagraj. The reasons in most of these cases are known. If changing the names of cities justifies changing the name of the country then it raises several questions many of which cross the sovereign boundary of the country.

No doubt, the sovereign power of the Parliament may decide to go for a new name. The question remains: where do we go from there? Innocent people are not going to ask for they are cocooned in Bharat – in roti-roji, sleeping on khatia, katia to get electricity in slums, Kumbh in Prayagraj, holy dip in the Ganga on the axis of sanskaar-parampara. If naming Bharat means to bring back Bharat of the Great Epic Ramayana, then how Rama is glorified?

There might have been one strong reason for the name change proposed – it is rooted in British colonial history. It is understood that India is a gift of the British – so whatever is British, for the time being Muslims are out of sight, is to be abolished/destroyed/... By that count, Satidaho (widow burning to death) is to be restored, child marriage is to be restored, widow re-marriage is to be abolished, access of women to formal education to be reverted and all that. Or that Ravindra Setu (Howrah Bridge in West Bengal) or the ports-roads are to be demolished. If the proposed name change is in the cultural domain that reminds slavery in Europe or indentured labour in British India, then one must know the kind of Dasobhavo that India that is Bharat never questioned – it was invisible inter-generational servitude well documented by Basham in his well-researched book “ The Wonder that was India’’. Also one may recapitulate the status of bonded labour, Sudras and Women in India’s civilization that was Bharat. However, Swadesi has been floated of late.

The point is not really India or Bharat. The point is not a binary division of India or Bharat between two warring political parties or some proxy groups. The point is caste-community-gender, the point is poverty-inequality-unemployment, the point is indebtedness and farmers’ suicides, the point is incivility, and the point is disrespect of women. The point is insecurity of persons with a difference. The point is annihilation or imprisonment of the thinkers on radical (Urban Naxal?) axis. The point is state-surveillance, public lynching, honour killing. The point is missing decentralization. The point is Bharat Walking barefoot. The point is illiteracy-drop out-health care. The point is child labour-unpaid labour-street children. The point is Corona-virus and Amphan. The point is ‘roti-kapda-makaan’. The point is ‘bijli sadak-paani’. The point is ‘Quit India’ in collusion.

Many of the Acts needed repeal like 1894 Land Acquisition Act that came to be revised only in 1984, or the Sedition Act of British India that intimidates any rational thinker in independent India that is Bharat and some are derived from Government of India Act 1935, Indian Penal Code and all that. Above all, the very pillar of the state that is bureaucracy is colonially derived like IAS from ICS and so on. Will making Bharat break those shackles?  

If transformation from India to Bharat leads to a stage where the mind of the common people is free from fear and their heads are held high, where nationalism is not cocooned in a narrow frame, then let there be Bharat. If not, Bharat will be polluted. Why do we take so much risk? Let India shoulder the yoke in continuity as she did since 1947 for it did not come up through questions and protests – it came through division of the country and the soul. No ointment will erase that from the minds of the people aged above 80 living with that memory of country-transfer or home-lost and not home-locked. Also many other slogans will need to be changed like “Make in India’’ to “Make in Bharat” and all that. Let the genius-infinite take some rest and meditate afresh on India, Bharat, Hindustan and all that.      

Bhaskar Majumder, Professor of Economics, G. B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad - 211019

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Jun 17, 2020

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

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