Tag Archives: history

What’s in a name after all?

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The SpaceX BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is now called the Starship! Musk has been known to be creative even when it comes to naming his ventures. At least, the latest ones. Boring Company. Why? Because they bore through the ground to make tunnels! Brick Store. Why? Well, duh. Because they’re selling bricks! Bricks from the tunnels bored! And my favourite? ‘Not a Flamethrower’ because anything named Flamethrower could not have been shipped through US Customs! But would you call him creative? Or just plain? The names are generic, after all. After all, people who came up with the names Dunzo and Dependo – aren’t they the creative ones?

But why are we discussing names?

Of late, news reports doing the rounds involve Uttar Pradesh and the changes in city names by the current Chief Minister of state, Yogi Adityanath. Yogi Adityanath was born Ajay Mohan Bisht, Guess he didn’t like it much and renamed himself. In a political career spanning over two decades, he’s been known to change names of markets, lanes, roads, railway station platforms and cities. Think of the number of platform displays, milestones, letterheads, postcards, envelopes, shop displays and road signs this man has single-handedly changed. Do the agreements and tenders also require to be changed? I hope not! It isn’t as simple as a Microsoft Word Find and Replace function, after all. Think of the amount of trade he has generated just by the stroke of his pen!

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This isn’t the first time India is witnessing such a drive. Our politicians prefer changing working names rather than doing the actual work of bringing about a change. Their claim to name is religion, history, patriotism and God (of no particular faith, of course) knows what not! From Calcutta to Bangalore, Allahabad to Madras, no place has been spared. Be it the Congress or BJP, Trinamool Congress, or even DMK – they all make name changes when in power and cry their lungs out hoarse when in Opposition! If an act is considered unnecessary and expensive, hold the same standards for everyone – whether in power or in opposition.

The plea that the names were given by the British or the Mughals or whosoever is bollocks! They, even if they were atrocious to us, were a part of our past and they have helped shape our present. If not for the British would the union of the states of India have been possible? Or would we still be ruled by kingdoms and factions, warring for more land? Would we have been another Middle East or the world’s second largest economy? If not for the Mughals, the Persians or the other Muslim rulers, would we have the Qutub Minar, Red Fort and the Taj Mahal? We cannot pick and choose our history. Even if we do not accept it, it’ll still exist. Changing the name of a place will not alter the course of history of the places.

Yogi Adityanath is at the helm of a state which has almost 10 times the population of Australia at 20.4 crores but a purchasing power parity of Tajikistan. With 828 persons per sq. km, against a country average of 382, the state has only 2 working international airports and a crime rate that exceeds all other states of the country, when it comes to communal violence, custodial deaths and police clashes. With over a year into the CM role, there’s so much more for him to focus on. But if only he and his troop of sycophants could focus on the atrocities and deprivations that our people are facing today rather than the ones hurled at us by rulers long dead! If we could only focus on paving the way for the future than trying to alter history. Does no one want to build a legacy these days?

Oh but if we are going to continue with this, then can the psuedo-Gandhis drop their borrowed surname as well and come clean? Now that will be altering the path of history, won’t it?

Graciously Yours!

Thought Flash #7

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Warning : Quick Geography lesson ending in History!

Look out at the sky tonight. Every night. Till you can shift your gaze from the waning (or waxing, depends on when you’re reading this) moon, to the dimming stars barely giving us a glimpse from the clouds, haze and dust these days.

The Sun is the nearest star to our planet. Go a little further and you have the Proxima Centauri which is 4.2421 light years away. A quick Google search indicates that the top ten nearest stars to the Earth are all within ten light years away from us.

Do you know what this means? There are a billion stars around us we can lay our terribly limited human eyes on. And the light coming from them that helps us see them is from a lot of years ago! 4.2421 years in case of the Proxima Centauri. Or 10.322 years in case of Ross 248, the tenth nearest star. Or ULAS J0015+01, the farthest star from the Earth which is 900,000 light years away.

As you look into the sky, you, my dear friend, are literally staring into the past! Every single night! Those stars may have long moved away or collapsed or given birth to black holes today, but you get to be a part of their history by simply casting a look at them.

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Maybe somewhere, from one of those celestial bodies, a past you could be staring back at the present you in the multiverse! I’ll stop right there. 🙂

Picture Courtesy : Martin Mark.

 

The Presence of The Past.

They say if you blink, you miss it. We waited impatiently, clicking pictures of others and selfies of ourselves, being photo bombed and photo bombing others, all the while creating memories which we probably wouldn’t refer back to again. Not because they wouldn’t be memorable. But because we create too many of them these days.

We were waiting for the lights at the famous Mysore Palace to go on. They say it looks enchanting. It is a work of technology which brings out the magnanimity of the work of art. It requires a single flick of a switch to light up thousands of little bulbs. 98,260 to be precise.

The Sun had set. Darkness had fallen. People were still clicking. Cameras were flashing. And just like that without any warning, without waiting for the clock to strike a particular hour,  the lights went on! And enchanting it was!

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Who would have thought a century ago that beauty could be kept locked up in pixels? Who would have predicted that you could hold the whole world worth of information just in your hands? How different our achievements are from those of our forefathers. They took pride in bigger and better; we in smaller and faster. They built with brick and mortar; we build with silicon and carbon. Their memories faded with time; ours with obsolescence. Their achievements were the heritage; ours is technology.

Graciously Yours!

 
Picture Courtesy : In collaboration with Ashwini Bhat.