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What is in a name-change?!

If only Shakespeare applied for a name-change in J&K he would know what is in a name!!!
12:50 AM Jan 14, 2024 IST | Mehmood ur Rashid
what is in a name change
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What’s in a name?

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That which we call a rose

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By any other name would smell as sweet.

For Juliet name is just a convention, nothing more. But ask Shakespeare to say the same line to someone at Board of School Education, Srinagar Municipality Committee, Regional Passport Office or Revenue Department in J&K. He will forget all his English. He will curse all his literature.

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It is easy to change your gender, your citizenship, even your faith. But if you wish to change your name, think thrice. You can change your fate, but not name. Once a name, always a name.

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When you see those small Passport photo size classifieds in a local newspaper titled Name Change – Naam Ki Duristee, you must pray for the poor soul. Here is a story of a boy who wanted to change his name. It is real, and very recent.

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A student in grade 8, from a school in Srinagar, wanted a change in his name. He had a system generated compulsion to do so. Reportedly, Passport office doesn't register a single word name. This boy, unfortunately, had just one word as his name. He requested the school office to upgrade his records, added another word to the already recorded name. The school knew well what the matter was. The Principal of the school even knew the family well. But in official matters everything starts with an application. The boy took an application and submitted in the school. He though that it was now done. He didn't know it had just begun. The school, after some days, asked for a set of formalities. The boy had to get a new Birth Certificate from the concerned government office, before the school could make any changes to his name.

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Back home this boy had none to pursue the case. His father had died, at a very young age, just months back. They had to seek help from others. Someone approached the concerned office and sought help, telling them the whole story. The office asked for a school I-Card as minimal requirement that could become a basis for initiating a change in the name. Now it was a case of checkmate. The school needed a Birth Certificate denoting the change in the name, and the office that issues Birth Certificates needed a school ID depicting the change in the name. The person who followed the case sent a WhatsApp image of the school ID, thinking it was needed to check the Date of Birth. The card was forwarded to the concerned person in the concerned office. He uploaded it on the system, and the system declined. Reason, the name on the card wasn't reflecting the change the boy wanted to do to his name. Checkmate.

The school was again approached, and again it refused to enter the change. A simple matter was complicated. As luck would have it, the boy laid hands on an old ID card that had the name on it as the boy now wanted to be registered in the records. That helped, and the change in the birth certificate fructified. The boy, more so his mother, heaved a sigh, least knowing that it was not over.

A photocopy of the new Birth Certificate was submitted at the school. It was now an official authentication, and what more was needed? Days later, the school came up with a list of to dos. An affidavit, a declaration in a local newspaper, a fresh application. Some more weeks went with that.  All of it was submitted and a long  trek came to an end.

Wait. More than a month passed and the name-change didn't happen. The school handed over another set of formalities. An application to the concerned CEO, and affidavit from the office of a first class magistrate,  a copy of the new birth certificate. All this was to be submitted at the CEO's office. If that office certified the name change, and sent the authentication on the required format, the school can proceed. It took another month. Finally, the requirements were fulfilled, the CEO's office gave the necessary approval. That was the latest I know of the case. I hope school would need no more to upgrade the particulars of the boy.

In such a situation if a person curses the system, the rules and those he meets in government offices, his is an act of religious devotion. And if he discovers demons in the chairs, don't doubt his judgment. Our officers seem to derive a kind of joy in making things complicated. Rather than raising a flag and asking the higher ups that a certain set of formalities is creating undue hassle for the people, our officers add more layers of formalities to it. The jurisprudence of this officialdom is beyond Byzantine.

Can the officers at the top take cognisance of this. In this digital age managing records is so easy. Can we have a Digilocker where all such details are recorded, and if a change has to be done, it is done through some single window system, that too digitally. Why toss a boy from school to SMC, from SMC to newspaper office and then to magistrate's court, further to CEO's office and back to school.

Why make a little boy suffer so much.

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