There are too many controversies surrounding a name, or an arbitrarily assigned / assumed label. One thing or the other crops up occasionally and for a culture that is as diverse and ever changing as India’s, this can only create confusions and needless arguments. Names are not what they once were, and with every region, the meanings of labels change way too often, creating so many misunderstandings that result in sometimes humorous, many times conflicting situations.
And no, I am not talking about the recent controversy of the 20th century lyricists comments about the 7th century mystic female poet.
With that disclaimer done, the problem was, in its own way, a prompt for this post and the thought process.
A lot of importance is given to a label that is attached to a random person, either of their own volition, or bestowed by someone else. Far from being a tag, the label becomes an identity and a marker that is either proudly proclaimed or forcedly agreed with. But in both cases, the intention behind the labelling will make all the difference.
A controversy can be created easily when the name is intended one way, and perceived in another way. With a cultural difference separating either the time period of the coining of the label and its recent meaning, or else the change of geography, the controversies develop into conflicts.
As was the case with the above mentioned conflict, (the one this post is not supposed to be about), the intent behind the labelling changes the whole point, bringing to the fore spats that become uglier on both sides. Rather than finding more innovative and creative ways to demean the lineage of the names on either side, the concentration could rather be spent on reasoning why a particular term began to be identified that way.
Amidst all the chaos of the misunderstanding and name calling, the intent behind the original insinuation and the veiled deeper disrespect that it was, is missed. As is often with any conflict and the corresponding polity, the main point is missed, and the hankering happens around a single point, usually taken out of context and diluted by the number of people presenting too many angles to what was a simple yes or no question.
The focus was conveniently shifted from the original intention behind the usage of certain labels and identities, and instead turned into an allegation – fest which brings about the worst of both sides. In the loud noise, the point is lost. Like all things with life, the louder the voices, the weaker the arguments.
After all, what’s in a name? Everything, indeed!