Educational enterprises What's in a name?

The onus to ensure that the educational institutes do not get away with any name lies with the government agencies. Still the educational institutes cannot be exonerated for the lack of imagination in choosing foreign names that contravene patents and rights

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J TALCHABHADELL
What’s in a name? A lot, you might say. Shakespeare dispensed his wisdom to us centuries ago telling us that a rose is a rose by any other name. That is certainly very true. A rose will always possess the qualities and beauty of rose. And, a rat will always remain a rat even if it is called a tiger. Names, therefore, may seem inconsequential. But is it so? Student leaders seem hell bent on removing all names foreign from the hoarding boards of the schools. The educational institutes are sitting on live volcano over name game.

If names were not important our parents would not have taken great trouble to go through the nitty-gritty of consulting the astrologers and holding elaborate ceremony to christen us with the most propitious names? The christening ceremony may be more than a mere traditional ritual. Names not only give us individual identities but might also chart our future. It could not be just a simplistic coincidence why Ram was named Ram and Rawan was named Rawan. Names may have inherent latent qualities — virtues or evils — that are rubbed into characters. It is immaterial whether we believe or not in the mystical relation between our name and our destiny as it is obvious that you require a powerful, marketable name to be a success as an individual or a business in the modern world. Sting, Snoopy Dogg, Lady Gaga, Freddy Mercury, Prince, Dilip Kumar, Jitendra, Shakti Kapoor, and Rajesh Khanna are some of the changed names that were and are success personified in the world of music and movies. I like to recall an anecdote of Shakti Kapoor. During his early struggle days, he was asked by a prospective employer to change his name to something strong and hard hitting like Shakti if he wanted to be a success in Bollywood. The rest, as they say, is history. Could he still have come up with some superlative, highly charged vicious performance as a screen villain under his original name? Quite possible. Like rose, he may have his inherent qualities intact. But, could he have gotten a break in the first place? May be or maybe not. It must be a turning point for him to heed to his employer’s advice.

Today you need an appropriate name to sell yourself and be a success. You need a powerful, saleable, marketable cosmopolitan name to go with the times. It is the sign of the times, the need of the hour, a commonsense. So, appropriate names, especially in business, are very important. And Nepalese schools cannot be exceptions.

Names spell brand of a particular quality. North Point, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Smithsonian, IIT, IIM, AIM are, to name a few, some of the world’s best education brands. These names spell trust, faith and reliability. Right names are, hence, very important. And most of the attractive right names are all in English as far as Nepal is concerned. Name is big business today. It is the same in the West. They love oriental names. Many years ago I walked into a huge store named KATHMANDU on the Kent Street in Sydney. US holds the patent right for Basmati, considered the best quality rice, grown mostly in the Indian Sub-continent. Basmati is not rice by any other name. The name Basmati spells quality. Basmati is big business. Name is a strategy. It is a marketing ploy and a clever plan. People spend hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars for names. Remember the dot com days? People were literally throwing money over names. Names are patented for sale. You cannot just pull out a name from a hat. Our education “entrepreneurs”, like our village dames, is street smart. They are well aware that glamorous exotic foreign names attract local students in hordes. They know local names even in memory of our great dear leaders, who sacrificed their lives to emancipate us from the shackles of Royal slavery, such as Krishna Prasad Higher Secondary School or Girija Prasad School of Aeronautics or Ganesh Man Singh Medical Institute for Autistic or Pushpa Lal Institute of Oriental Politics may not be very attractive to students. Nor will the students take the School of Environmental Sciences named after our most holy river Bagmati seriously. On the other hand, schools named after Bush or Atlanta or Al Capone or Howard Hughes or Hugh Hefner will definitely attract Nepalese students’ attention. There is nothing wrong with having foreign names as long as they do not violate the patent or intellectual rights and are not deceptive or the meaning is a complete turn-off. You also cannot definitely have Al Capone Institute of Business Managment or Mick Jagger School of Music even if these names are not patented. And like Basmati, which is patented in the US, you also cannot use names of world leaders, important landmarks, and institutions.

The onus to ensure that the educational institutes do not get away with any name lies with the government agencies. Still the educational institutes cannot be exonerated for the lack of imagination in choosing foreign names that contravene patents and rights and scam you into believing half truths. In fact, the government should make inventory list of permissible names that could and should be sold on auction.

To sum up, there is simply too much at stake in a name. You, therefore, cannot fault the educational institutes for resisting the change of their foreign names.

source:J TALCHABHADELL (2012),"Educational enterprises What's in a name?", The Kathmandu Post,23 August 2012

photo/art: The Himalayan Times

2012-08-24 | EducateNepal

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