IT is reported that the management committee of Faridpur Medical College took a resolution in 2011 to rename the college after Sheikh Hasina. Accordingly, the resolution was forwarded to the concerned ministry for approval. In a recent meeting of the management committee, it was disclosed that Sheikh Hasina had declined to associate her name with the medical college. Accordingly, the name of the institution would stay as Faridpur Medical College. I must congratulate her for taking this wise decision.
In our country, there are no set rules in naming public institutions and places. I read a story about naming of a road in Paris after Sir Winston Churchill. I understand France has a law that prohibits the naming of any public place after any living person or within five years after the demise of a person. The French government made one exception. The road in front of the Grand Palais connecting Cours la Reine with Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris was named Avenue Winston Churchill soon after his death by making a special amendment to the law only for him, and he was informed of the decision by the French government during his life time.
This was indeed a great honour to a great man who had made so much contribution to the liberation of France from Nazi occupation during World War II. It is interesting to note that the French did not do it during the life time of Sir Winston Churchill. They waited till his death to honour him.
There must be good reasons why the French made such a law. Autocratic regimes often misuse their powers and name public institutions, places and roads after their own names only to glorify themselves. These names, however, do not last long. They are often changed when a new regime takes over and follows suit. This practice creates confusion in the minds of the public and often deprives deserving persons. I saw a cartoon in a newspaper after the fall of Stalin when many cities in the former Soviet Union were being renamed. In the cartoon, the headmaster was telling the class teacher: “Stop instructions in geography till we hear from Kremlin!”
It is time we should have a law similar to the one in France and bring some discipline in naming public institutions and places. The game of frequently changing names of public institutions should stop as soon as possible.
The writer is a former chief engineer of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.