Lady luck? No place for women in nameplates
This is one challenge women may not be able to conquer fully; at least, not in the near future
It is sad that though mothers, sisters, daughters and daughters-in-law contribute in making the houses, they do not find their names engraved on the nameplates. The lucky ones finding their names are mostly doctors
Arguably women are making giant strides in most fields, including those that were presumed as male bastions. For all the accolades they win from all over in their chosen field, rephrasing the adage ‘charity begins at home’ to ‘individual identity should begin at home’ one finds that this is still a far cry for them considering that we hardly come across nameplates at the entrance of their houses bearing their names.
If the present state is any indication, it seems that they still have a long way to go before they get their names engraved on the nameplates of their homes. Surely, the current scenario is appalling, to say the least.
More often than not, the name plate bears the name of the most prominent male member of the house or of the head of the family. In some cases, the owner also includes the name of his son (s).
In order to understand this bizarre, but almost ignored, phenomenon, we conducted an informal survey in some of elite residential areas in the national capital like Rajouri Garden, Vivek Vihar, New Rajinder Nagar, Vikram Vihar and IP Extension. We were aghast by the findings.
We came across nameplates in around 150 houses and flats. Discrimination against even urban women stood exposed. In only 16 houses, women got pride of place in nameplates. Among them, 11 women were sharing their names with that of their husbands. In 35 houses, the names of the father and sons figured in the nameplates. Here is the shocker-names of two eminent women writers were missing in the nameplates of their mansions!
“I can assert that it is not just about Delhi, but women rarely make it to nameplates anywhere in India. It is depressing that even educated families are not mentioning names of the female members despite their achievements,” says Praveen Khandelwal, founder and general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
It is sad that though mothers, sisters, daughters and daughters-in-law contribute in making the houses, they do not find their names engraved on the nameplates. The lucky ones finding their names are mostly doctors. There are seven doctors in the list of 16 women whose names were prominently shown in the nameplates. Among them, six live in Rajinder Nagar, four in Vivek Vihar and three each in Rajouri Garden and IP Extension.
After the husband’s death, a family removes his name from the plate. It is replaced by his wife’s name (ostensibly for the sake of the surname). It is considered inauspicious if a plate bears the name of a dead person at the entrance. It’s ironical that for as long as the man of the house is alive, his wife finds no mention on the nameplate.
“The survey findings are shocking since husbands and wives now work hard to buy their dream home. Most of them are double-income families. They apply for home loans together. And, when it comes to nameplates, the wives don’t get their due. I wonder why no one, not even feminists and crusaders of gender equality, has ever made an issue of this disparity,” says Khandelwal.
Meanwhile, some house-owners claim that women themselves insist that their names should not figure on the nameplates. Perhaps, a throwback to the days of joint families!
Meanwhile, in a society where people love to have names like ‘Jalsa’, ‘Sai Kripa’ and ‘Ek Onkar’, ‘Promised Land’ is definitely a huge shift. In a big house in Rajouri Garden, ‘Promised Land’ is inscribed right on the top of the nameplate. Those who know the history of Israel would be aware of the idea behind ‘Promised Land’. The term, according to the Hebrew Bible, has been used to describe the land promised by the Lord to Jews. It is possible that the Rajouri Garden resident would have moved from one place to another before getting his dream home!
Then, there is a house with ‘At Last’ inscribed on the vantage point. Also, ‘Sai Kripa’ is creating a niche for itself outside the gates of both small and big houses. The survey found 18 ‘Sai Kripa’ houses. No other gods or goddesses find similar acceptances. We did not find even one house named ‘Hanuman Kripa’ or ‘Mahaveer Kripa’; ‘Jai Mata ki’ was in nine houses while ‘Shiv Kripa’ or ‘Bhole Shanker’ was in six homes. Sikhs more often than not put ‘Ek Onkar’ outside their homes. We came across ten such houses. Of course, some were named in the memory of mothers.
And finally, the national capital also seems to be shedding the image of being the city of refugees. The survey finds only one nameplate in which the owner has mentioned his native place, Lahore. Given the fact that Lajpat Nagar, Rajinder Nagar and Vivek Vihar have big concentration of people from Pakistan in the wake of partition, this is a significant trend. Earlier refugee families used to mention their place of origin on nameplates more often than not.
Surely, Delhi is becoming an inclusive city as people from Andhra Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu are settling down here. A change of mindset, notwithstanding, a fair recognition for women remains elusive when it comes to nameplates and that is the truth. What is there in a name, did someone say?
(The author is Delhi-based senior journalist and writer. He is author of Gandhi's Delhi which has brought to the forth many hidden facts about Mahatma Gandhi)