What's in a name?

Posted by: Suresh K L on

Rajiv Gandhi NP or Nagarahole NP, ask any Kannadiga, which one of these will they choose? The answer will be, a definite Nagarahole. In Kannada Nagarahole translates to Nagara (snake like or belonging to snake) hole (river or stream) aesthetically named in accordance with the number of serpentine like streams inside the park with one of them being called Nagarahole. Like a snake, these streams takes shape in monsoon and disappear in summer but reappears next year in different size and mode casting their own charisma on the forest. Being at the core and untouched for centuries, this stream gave the name to other areas of NP which were later added. Nagarahole was always a place of wonder, fear, mystery and an envoy of purity of many forms in the hearts of Kannadiga. For any Kannadiga, the word Nagarahole instantly brings a vision of verdant forest where man looses his control over other life forms and Mother Nature takes over. If you ask any Kannadiga to give a list of forests, they surely will start with Nagarahole naively. Yes, that is the spell of Nagarahole on Kannadigas. May be these very attributes lead to the renaming of Nagarahole as Rajiv Gandhi NP in 1992 to commemorate the death anniversary of our late honorable prime minister by the state government. Politically thinking it's a good move, renaming a premier forest of the state in honor of a prime minister. But having officially declared, the Rajiv Gandhi NP remained only on the official papers and on the welcoming boards, it was never accepted by the larger public and maybe 90% of Kannadigas are unaware of the existence of Rajiv Gandhi NP. If you travel from Bengaluru all the way to Rajiv Gandhi NP, you will see boards holding the name as Nagarahole and only when you stand at the border entry point of the NP that you will realize that it's called Rajiv Gandhi NP because only there, boards are having the name of Rajiv Gandhi.


So what's the reason for unsuccessful naming?


  • We are all part of a game being played everyday on this earth in the tag brand of wildlife saviors, lovers, etc. We are not the eternal players of this game, but surely is the Nagarahole. It was in existence and was being called so even before it had become a national park or Tiger reserve and will continue to be so for eons. Like us, Late Mr.Rajiv Gandhi was also a player who played positive role in protecting nature and its wildlife. A good work of a single person should not snatch away the very existence and heritage of a land. Like India never became Bharatha, Nagarahole can never become Rajiv Gandhi. Places like Nagarahole stand taller than time, period, politics and everything else. So equating it to something is inappropriate.
  • For Kannadigas, Nagarahole is word which comes as easily as their mother tongue and calling the same place with some other name is tongue twisting exercise.
  • Apart from Govt. records, even officers, scientist, NGO's and public rarely use the new name.
  • Having three Rajiv Gandhi wildlife parks at Orang(Assam), Srisailam(AP) and Nagarahole(Kar) is a cause of confusion.


What's the solution?

  • Like the Orang NP of Assam, government must take back the renaming order.


  • Since getting original name can become politically sensitive issue and could not be resolved by political parties, I have more hope on people like Sanctuary Asia who seems to be in good contact with members of Gandhi family who are far more sensitive politicians, which is evident from August 2011 edition where Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has shown her love for nature and who seems dare enough in taking decision like meeting Nalini in Chennai will surely help in positive outcome.
  • Late Mr.Rajiv Gandhi is also well remembered as a person pioneering in the introduction of Computers and IT. But when International Technology Park (ITPL) and Electronic City were come up in Bengaluru, no one remembered Mr.Rajiv Gandhi. Let the government rename them as RGITPL, since they have no heritage and are purely manmade. Even I don't remember our cities having RG roads. Why is it so? Is it because people address the same issue differently when it comes to their own door step or is it very easy to snatch old forest of its identity because it doesn't have voting power.
  • Manmade Zoological parks and research stations must be named after Mr.Rajiv Gandhi which helps them to start their heritage saga in the name of a man who gave them their livelihood by securing our wildlife.


Surely opinion poll from Sanctuary Asia is a welcome and also comments from readers.