Imagine this: Many benefits of programme called ‘Name in India’

  • Manas Chakravarty
  • Updated: Jan 23, 2016 21:17 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigns like Start up India, Digital India, Skill India and Make in India are so passe. Launching ‘Name in India’! (Ashok Dutta/HT File Photo)

+(Tweet from PMO India: PM named two Orchid varieties developed in Sikkim Cymbidium sardar & Lycaste deendayal. Sikkim CM named the 3rd one Cymbidium namo.)

Politicians heaved a huge sigh of relief when they heard an orchid had been named after the Prime Minister. ‘Ever since I heard the government plans to name airports after cities instead of after political leaders, I’ve been worried sick,’ confessed a veteran. To a sceptic’s query ‘What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ he said he was certain an orchid not called Namo would not smell as sweet.

‘Why stop at orchids?’ asked a naming consultant, adding we could start naming all kinds of flowers, fruits, animals after people. A naming scholar said, ‘Did you know there’s a cretaceous lizard called Obamadon, a spider called Aptostichus barackobamai and a fish called Teleogramma obamaorum, all named after Obama? Why can’t we do the same for our Indian leaders?’ A killjoy pointed out that in order to name something we needed to discover it first. ‘Why stop at animals and plants?’ asked a beef-eating naming professional. ‘Naming streets, schools and airports after politicians is old hat. We should start naming foods, cocktails, quarks, comets, stars after them now,’ he said, adding he was looking forward to naming a dish he had cooked the ‘Devendra Fadnavis beef fry’.

‘We must set up a committee to award these names,’ said a ruling party politician. An opposition MP wanted equal representation in the panel. ‘Otherwise,’ he alleged, ‘we’ll very probably see a Rahul rodent or a Sonia slug soon.’ Someone said there was no reason why the names should be of politicians alone. The naming expert warned there was immense scope for crony name-ism, with favourites being rewarded with good things named after them. ‘We could very well see a stout butterfly named after Amit Shah and, on the other hand, a black hole named Nitish,’ he said.

A naming policy expert said names are a valuable national resource and should not be awarded in an ad hoc manner. ‘Just as we have auctions for coal mines or for telecom spectrum, we need to have a transparent auction process for names as well,’ she ranted. She said we needed an independent Naming Regulator. A businessman asked whether he could bid to name deadly viruses after business rivals. ‘I would also dearly love to see an Adani cockroach,’ he said wistfully.

That was when an economist intervened. ‘Imagine the resources the government could raise by auctioning off names. We could invite foreign investment too. We could have Facebook Frogs, Google Grasshoppers, Twitter Toilets, perhaps an INS Netflix. We could wipe out the entire fiscal deficit.’ ‘It’s a wonderful idea, a free market in names,’ said a politico, ‘but we must keep some things aside to be named after our great leaders. For example, we must name our nuclear arsenal the Mahatma Gandhi Nuclear Bomb Project.’

The politicians vowed to set up the naming programme immediately. ‘What should we call it?’ they asked. ‘Name in India, of course,’ I said.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

The views expressed are personal

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