Monday, February 25, 2008

Feminism: A Practical Approach

Mad Momma (making a comeback on this blog after 12 posts!) has made a very passionate point about how the chauvinistic and patriarchal Indian society refuses to acknowledge the mother's identity in the child's name.
Her logic sounded very rational to me but like any half-decent sales manager, I always try to check out the feasibility of rational ideas.
So, I thought of this chain of events...

Imagine a scenario in the early 1970's, where one Debapriya Chaudhuri and one Reeta Dutta are brought together by their respective families in holy matrimony and they are blessed with a bonny (!) baby boy. In true equalist tradition, they name him Diptakirti Dutta Chaudhuri. (They also have a daughter - but let's not confuse matters for now.)
A few years later, a young officer of the Indian Navy - Subroto Guha - is married to Nandini Bose. They are blessed with a bonnier baby girl and she is named Trishna Bose Guha. (Their second-born, a son, is kept aside for now.)
The aforementioned son and daughter meet - at their respective families' behest - and decide to spend their lives together. Their son is christened (in keeping with the tradition) Dyujoy Dutta Chaudhuri Bose Guha.
If you are wondering whether Dyujoy is ever going to get time to answer questions in his exams (after writing his name) or if he will have A4-sized PAN cards, then I would urge you to think one generation ahead.
Dyujoy falls in love with his Marathi classmate in college and gets married to her, who is also from a household firmly believing in gender equality.
So, can you guess what the names of the children of the aforementioned Dyujoy and Swati Mangeshkar Patil Bhonsle Patankar going to be?
I am not envisaging a scenario if the girl of choice is a South Indian instead of Marathi, because I am not sure if Blogger allows that much memory for individual accounts.

I think, in order to avoid telephone directories the size of asteroids and school application forms that would kill 14 trees to produce, we have to have a more practical solution.
Junk the surname altogether!
Have uncommon names like Diptakirti, Hiranyava, Zebesco, Makaibari, Horatio, Perestroika, Kapaalkundala - which will be enough to identify a person. Then, we will avoid the entire chaos of having to add both parent's surnames to the poor fellow's name and exam papers will get answered.

With this problem behind us, we can start an entirely new discussion on whether children should be allowed to resemble the father more or the mother. With advances in genetic engineering, I am sure in a couple of decades, Dyujoy will propose a simple and elegant solution on his blog.
Just like his father did today!

19 comments:

Diligent Candy said...

Ha ha ha ...incredibly funny :-)kapaalakundala ...ha ha ha

nilendu said...

Come on. It's and always will be a patriarchal society. Moms get too many 'magic' movie moments, pops get to share the beer and last name. These things are highly cosmetic

puranjoy said...

There was this huge hue and cry a few years back when a couple named their daughter without any surname. The headmistress of her school added the father's surname on her own, and wouldn't back down when the parents complained.

Don't remember the details/resolution of that controversy. However, I am pretty sure it was in some school in Kolkata.

wanderlust said...

your method is what is followed in Taiwan and Indonesia, i think.
another solution would be what shekar suman's dad did. he chose a surname completely different from his or his wife's.... this one was to avoid the caste tag... he gave caste-neutral surnames to all his kids.
doing away with the surname is going to be hard to implement, considering that in the US, people call you by what the 'last name' field in your passport is (people with a patronymic in their last name field have hell, more so if they are travelling with their fathers). So if dyujoy needs to save time from filling the bubbles in the name field in his IIT-JEE paper, he can possibly be dyujoy vij (3 is the minimum number of letters you need to fill in the last name field to get a gmail ID), or dyujoy joy (in keeping with his father's fascination for names with the first three letters of the last name being the same as the last three letters of the first name).

SUR NOTES said...

my child ( whose name is a bit like amar akbar anthony at the moment) will possibly refer to this blog post to hit us on the head when she goes nuts trying to explain why she has such a strange name:)

Minka said...

MM knows you wrote this ? I'll go get the popcorn .

I remember my friends family name is oke , his dad rebelled and changed it to Oak and he rebelled and changed it to Oka . I think his son will rebel and change to Oke and the great-grandad will have the last laugh.

But seriously, the schools/system should just accept what the parents decide regardless of what the school feels about it

dipali said...

I have friends whose children do not carry either parent's surname, but
have a meaningful second name(meaningful to the rather revolutionary parents, that is).
Adding all relevant ancestral handles would certainly lead to a lot of
unmanageable names!

OrangeJammies said...

Diptakirti, my condolences. You were a fine man and we loved you.

the mad momma said...

okay Diptakirti Chaudhuri. You asked for it.

To begin with - you're already in deep shit. we spent an hour and a half in your house while you roamed the streets of delhi frittering away time. and now you make fun of me.

to begin with. like all feminist ideas - this one will deal with its share of naysayers.. some comically like you. some like the idiot pillai on my blog. go see his comments.

i dont think all names need to be added to reach A4 proportions. my kids can drop either name ... or keep either. other options are to give each one parent's surname. or like someone else suggested - give a unique third name. we have a common friend - the one whose daughter is 6 days younger than Joy - she doesnt use a surname. dropped it long ago.
so there are plenty of permutations and combinations.

and you know.. you have to stop bothering with the mad momma. i know its hard to be indifferent to me... and u did succeed for 12 posts.. but keep at it. i am sure you will succeed someday!!!

and the next time we visit - try and make it home!!!!!!

the mad momma said...

OR - why not give the mother's surname and NOT the father's anymore. that should solve all IIT JEE problems. right?

i dont get it, women must give birth, go to work, come home and help with homework, stitch your bloody shirt buttons... do everything, and still have to take your damn surname.

yeh zaalim duniya!!!

Dipta Chaudhuri said...

@ Mad Momma: Thanks. Your response is exactly what I hoped for!

Anamika said...

Wow!!! MM ends her first comment with "and the next time we visit - try and make it home!!!!!!"
If and when that happens, either of you, please blog about it. I hope sparks fly :D

You guys are super funny

OrangeJammies said...

*peers out from under her rock* Psst! Is he still alive?

the mad momma said...

anamika & OJ - might I remind you who your 'original' friend is?

Dipta - good. i am glad you got what you wanted.

Anonymous said...

It's only fair that one humorist acknowledges another... Years ago, Tarapada Ray postulated a very similar theory vis-a-vis the names. I think in his column in Desh...

the mad momma said...

@anamika: oops. sorry. I was just informed you are not my old friend anamika but another anamika. apologies for forcing you to take my side!!!

Coffeerocks said...

Add this to the confusion - some of us don't even have a last name - we carry our dad's first name as our last name for passport purposes :)
So using my/hubby's last names for our child will be using the child's grandpa's name as the last name.

I am gonna start climbing walls!

niladri said...

Hi ,
Just started reding your blogs in the last few months. this post i found was somewhat inspired by certain Tarapaday Roy's Romyo Rachna where there was exact scenario described...good to get inspire...

innerspace said...

That was a thought provoking post. The danger of thousands of unanswered or half answered sheets looms in the future..