Thursday, July 18, 2024

I always wonder why some Indian names are not only pronounced incorrectly, they are even spelt wrong. Wonder if it was British who modified these words to suit their speech and text.
For instance how did our sacred river Ganga become Ganges? Or Lord Ram came to be called Rama. The names are spoken and written the same way, across languages.  The spoilers were however non-discriminating, they called even villainous Ravan  as Ravana… some consolation.
Lord Krishan was also distorted to Krishna.  Lord Shiv is called Shiva.
Even the religious books had to face the music, Ramayan was called Ramayana.

Traditionally, in Hindi when an ‘a’ is suffixed to a male’s name, it becomes a female’s name. For example Amit is a boy’s name whereas Amita is a  girl’s name. Similarly Sumit is a boy’s name and Sumita is a girl’s. There are numerous examples like Tarun- Taruna, Karun- Karuna, Arun-Aruna…..
What bothers me even more is the fact that, every 75 years after India’s Independence, long after British left our shores, we continue to distort all these names.
Why can’t  we simply use the original names like river Ganga, Lord Ram, Lord Krishan, villains Ravan, Kans and also use the correct way of writing and speaking the names of religious books like Ramayan and Mahabharat.

The disease was not limited to people. Even place got infected. While writing the names of some state, the ‘a’ got added, even while reporting in the newspapers. Keral became Kerala, Karnatak became Karnataka, Maharashtr became Maharashtra.
Why must we have two different spellings in Hindi and English for name of the people or states.
What is funny is that the ailment did not spare even some historical figures like King Ashok, whose name got distorted to King Ashoka and King Bharat became King Bharata! Chandragupt became Chandragupta and Harshvardhan became Harshvardhana.

Whereas it is fashionable these days to rename various roads, states and stadiums, I wonder if such goof-up will be looked into and the right spellings and pronunciation of proper names will be adhered to.
I must not miss the tallest of them all. Great Himalay Parvat (mountain range), which got distorted to Himalayas…
Ironically the names of Mughals or British who ruled us never got distorted, we continue to call Lord Mountbatten as Lord Mountbatten, King Akbar as King Akbar, not Akbara………. and so on.

As we celebrate 75th years of India’s independence (Azaadi ka Amrit Mahautsav), we have two options.
We can either continue to crib about expecting someone else (central or state government) or some administration to correct the tradition of distorting names,
Like Mahatama Gandhi ji had once said, “Be the change, you want to see”

As responsible citizens of India, can each one of us pledge to start using the correct spelling of all Indian names while writing and start pronouncing them right, while speaking,  from today, August 15, 2022.
Personally, I pledge to right the wrong…..

Arun Arora,
Director Mavyn and Chetak Foundation.
A columnist…


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