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SOUND OFF! Pratibha Krishnamurthy muses over names and their origins

Why do parents choose the names they do for their children? Do names reflect their hopes and aspirations, or are they purely random phenomena?

Moreover, what effect does a name have on the person? Does the name Gyanprakash have any causal effect on how intelligent he turns out to be and the name Roopa on how beautiful? It could very well be the other way round.

The recent trend in names is the choice of unusual names that are (usually) short, and to an increasing extent, easily pronounceable outside of India. How the name is spelt is also important; numerology is definitely a factor.

Does selecting a unique name indicate that Indians in general are more adventurous now than before? The economy has given more power and stability, so individuality can now take over self-imposed restrictions to conform to a pattern. Going by this theory, what were the motivations for naming children before liberalisation? My guess is that movies were a strong influence, explaining the many Amits and Rajeshs in the 70s and 80s. Going further in the past, both my grandmothers named all their children after various gods. (My father was named Krishnamurthy of whom there is probably one in every south Indian family). My maternal grandmother named her daughters Savitri and Anasuya, registering her approval of devoted and persevering wives in no ambiguous terms.

Names hence tell much more about parents.

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