Read the signs, publish with care
Panjab University, Chandigarh, now among the world’s most reputed institutions, is in no position to correct its spellings to the conventional “Punjab”, since it will render hundreds of degrees awarded over the decades unauthentic.
The spellings once published on certificates stand frozen. Putting Sanskrit mantras around the logos of the educational institutions is another common practice. Many presses store these quotable phrases as templates for quick design.
Most common model in India is “Asto ma sadgamay, Tamso ma jyotirgamay, Mrityor ma amritgamay”, meaning: “O God, steer me from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” Often, this deep thought is spelt wrongly on the permanent symbols.
A famous institute intended to carry with its logo the inscription “Tamso ma jyotirgamay”, apt tagline for a place of education: to steer the students away from the darkness of ignorance towards the light of knowledge.
I was examining a paper the institute had sent me. The first sign on the letterhead was this logo: “Tasmo ma jyotirgamay”. Tasmo? It carries a different meaning entirely.
I enquired from the institute if anyone had noted the error. No one had. I went to the college and found all the stationery (file covers, letter pads, identity cards, report cards) carrying the same erroneous inscription; and it had travelled to countless destinations and offices. I wrote about it to the director.
A few months later, we met at a wedding and I asked him if he had corrected the error. “It cost the institute a fortune,” he complained, “I had to get all the stationery changed. Once in knowledge, it was also impossible to use the old set of papers.”
Khushwant Singh wrote a review of “Delhi, Phoenix City” by CSH Jhabwala in his popular column. The reputed book publisher had kept its price at 2,499. Khushwant’s column appeared with a cover image on which “Phoenix” was misspelt (as Phoneix). I wrote to the publisher and got a reply that the reviewing newspaper had picked up a wrong, unreleased picture of the jacket.
It was a relief to me, since the book was likely to be a bestseller and go across the globe. The image of Indian publishing was at stake.
Next day, on a hunch, I checked the publisher’s website.
The wrong image was still there. I checked a few more portals selling the book. All had the wrong image. I tweeted about it to the publishers but like the spoken word, something once published is hard to withdraw. So friends, publish with care and keep your image.