ARTICLES
Our own hurricanes

KATRINA, Rita, Ophelia, Irene…. All dreaded hurricanes. Played havoc. Left a trail of destruction in their wake. Laid even the mighty United States of America low.

No, we are not concerned about their respective destructive power. Did you notice another similarity in them? They all have feminine names. The tradition started during World War II when Army and Navy meteorologists started naming tropical cyclones after their girlfriends and wives. Perhaps, it was an attempt to make the misery caused by them less unbearable. Earlier, they were named after politicians.

Following objections from feminists, they were given male names also but by a strange coincidence those with a feminine identity proved to be the most lethal.

In comparison, look at what we have started doing in India! We assign them totally impersonal names like “Agni”, “Baaj” and “Pyaar” (whoever thought of the last one?).

Such gender-neutral names are an insult to the rich resources of our country. Are we in any way lacking in appropriate names for hurricanes and typhoons?

Any storm which is caused by Manuwadi forces as a conspiracy against hapless Dalits should be christened “Mayawati”. The nation owes it to the suppressed victims that losses suffered by them are made good by auctioning off useless buildings like Taj Mahal.

An ochre storm which plays havoc wherever it goes and then quietly heads towards pilgrimage centres in the high Himalayas deserves to be called “Uma Bharati”.

On the other hand, a petulant storm whose direction cannot be predicted and lurches from Left to Right and North to South without any rhyme or reason ought to be called “Mamata Banerjee”.

The Indian name for a calamity like a tsunami, which kills human beings by the thousands but leaves animals more or less untouched, almost suggests itself: “Maneka Gandhi”.

And what do you call a storm which begins with a whimper, gathers tremendous momentum without anyone noticing it, and then, equally unexpectedly, dissipates itself? “Sonia Gandhi”, of course.

Mind you, this is only a representative list. There is an inexhaustible treasure of appropriate names. Unfortunately, we have far too few cyclones to accommodate them all. Those desirous of getting their names immortalised should write to the Met department at the earliest, with detailed curriculum vitae and recommendation letters from at least three active politicians.

Once the national-level cyclones are exhausted, we can exploit localised storms and storms in teacups for naming ceremonies.


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