So what ‘s in a name?

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

So said Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” and so most would agree. But, who cares for the scent or for the science, or logic or reason? Its all in the name silly!!

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The nilgai, also called the blue bull, nilgau etc is in fact an antelope and the largest one in Asia. They are not very handsome animals, a little confused mixture of the deer, horse and bovine families. They move in groups in shrubby areas and probably reproduce abundantly, as their numbers were constantly growing in the campus I lived in. Since, the houses had robust compound walls and there was no farming, they were left alone and seldom approached us humans.  Their nuisance value was restricted to them suddenly appearing on the road, especially on foggy nights, which had caused a  few minor accidents.

But that is not how farmers see them as they can be fairly destructive of standing crops. They often resort to shooting them and the meat is eaten in the rural areas. But now their name is causing some problems for the State of Haryana, which is a leader in the current  national past time of ‘stereotype’ for everything and everyone. The State has been a leader of the anti-beef crusade and has passed some fairly stringent laws. And this is causing a real problem – farmers can no longer kill the ‘nilgai’ Who cares that it is in fact an antelope with the formal name of  Boselaphus tragocamelus and  will remain the Boselaphus tragocamelus, what ever the local tongue. And so the poor animal is going to have a change of name Haryana to change nilgai’s name to allow culling – says the headline!!

While this is only a name,  you can even lose your basic identity.  The poor coconut palm – Indian state decides coconut trees are no longer trees but palms. This was Goa a few months ago, trying to circumvent the National Green Tribunal laws on cutting trees. For most of us the palm is an elegant, tall, fronded tree which is referred to as the palm tree. But it is the official list that matters, not science or logic and  so the Cocus nucifera has been dropped from the official list of trees – because the process of getting permission to cut the ‘tree’ was too much hassle for those impatient to convert their land into more lucrative resorts!!

So, I am wondering where we are headed – obviously the ‘name’ and  origins are changing their status in modern India. The prevailing tone is that it is high time we overcame the influence of our erstwhile colonizers and  subscribing to the ideas of its icons – in fact  it’s all actually in the name, silly!!





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