HITLER: What’s in a name?

Published: September 5, 2012

RAYMOND KHARMUJAI
IANS

Shillong, Sep 5 - Hitler, the name of a garment store in Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat, had to be changed after its owners were hit by protests. But what if a person is the namesake of the Nazi dictator?

Adolf Lu Hitler Rangsa Marak, the Nationalist Congress Party legislator from India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya, believes that a name doesn’t represent the true characteristics of a person and sees no need to change his name.

“I am no dictator and neither am I the namesake of Adolf Hitler,” said Marak, explaining that his name was incomplete without his surname – Rangsa Marak.

“No one in Rangsakona (his assembly constituency) has ever questioned me about my name,” he told IANS.

“Parents often name their children after great leaders but sometimes due to ignorance they get fascinated by those personalities,” S. N. Lamare, a professor of history at the North Eastern Hill University here said.

The legislator too admitted that he was an infant when his father fondly named him Adolf Lu Hitler followed by the surname.

“I have never asked my father why he chose this name for me,” said Marak, known more popularly as Hitler and Lulu.

Recently, a small garment shop in Ahmedabad was forced to drop its name (Hitler) after protest by the Jewish and local community and even people outside India.

The Jewish community was particularly upset as the German dictator inflicted untold misery and violence on the Jews during the Second World War when millions were massacred in concentration camps. The name Hitler became synonymous with mass murder the world over.

In India, however, the general notion associated with the name Hitler is someone who is a very strict person, as cited by the shop owner in Ahmedabad who said that his partner’s grandfather who was a strict disciplinarian was the inspiration behind his shop’s name.

On a similar note, a TV soap which is running on air is named “Hitler Didi” after the protagonist, who is depicted as a strict and no-nonsense disciplinarian.

In India, there have been no issues with the soap’s name but in the U.S. it is titled “General Didi.”

Although Marak in the past faced some difficulties while travelling abroad, he never faced any problem while travelling in India.

“Once when I was travelling from Amsterdam as the forest and environment minister, I was questioned at the Amsterdam airport about my name (on the passport) and officials even cross-checked with authorities to confirm my Indian citizenship,” Marak said.

“Indians are more sensible. We don’t believe a name represents a person’s true character. A person with the name Hitler can be a good person,” Apurba K. Baruah, a political scientist at the North Eastern Hill University, told IANS.

“Similarly, a person who may have the name of a god can be a bad person. The name has got nothing to do with it,” Baruah said.



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