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Amar se Alia Tak: Here’s How Names Have Evolved in India

Dilip Kumar Sharma se Ovian take. How have names changed in India? And what does this evolution say about us? 

2 min read

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Concept: Tridip Mandal
Producer : Zijah Sherwani
Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

My name is Zijah Sherwani. It has its origin in the Middle-East. In Arabic, Zijah means ‘a rich status’. It’s a name that not many can pronounce right but one thing is guaranteed – grabs attention every time.

I guess by now, you get the drift. This is a piece about names and how they have evolved over the years in India. You may wonder, “what’s the big deal about names?” But ask any soon-to-be parent. All they want is an unheard of name for their child. A name which stands out. A name which is different.


Before the Internet, no one realised how popular certain names were. But gradually, the culture of picking popular names also changed. Parents now started to pick the most unusual names.

So were Indian parents always this obsessed with nailing that perfect name?

From Manoj Kumar’s ‘Bharat’ to Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Vijay,’ from Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Rahul’ to Salman Khan’s ‘Prem’, Bollywood has always been the go-to place for names.

And now star kids are setting naming benchmarks. Taimur, Aryan, Aarav – these names ooze cool. Aarav and Aaradhya were the most popular names of 2019.


Next, are the cricketers. They have always been the source of some very popular names likes Kapil, Sunil, Virat and Shikhar.

With the satellite TV boom in the late 90s and early 2000, TV soaps too contributed to popular names. Cue a generation of kids named Rishabh, Anurag, Prerna and Ansh.

Internet cafes, broadband connections gave birth to social media and Google baba. Pandit ji was replaced by computer ji when it came to naming children. Growing aspirations met technology which gave birth to the idea of finding the most uncommon names.

According to a study done on 976 private schools in Delhi by Hari Balaji, founder of a data financial analytic company, 25% girls and 20% boys in the 2013-15 batch have names starting with the letter ‘A’. This shows that a significant chunk of parents prefer to opt for names starting with the letter ‘A’. Nowadays, in a class of 30 kids, at least half of the kids have names starting with ‘A’ or ‘AA’.

Shorter and hip names are an ideal in finding that perfect name, but they wish their children’s names to sound intense too.

Another important factor which parents consider these days, is that the name should not be mispronounced.

So, the recipe of an ideal name in this era is, Sweet-Short-Unique and Easy to Pronounce.

Sometimes, the same names have different spellings. No seriously, people look for unusual spellings of the common names they like.


No matter how hard parents research for that ‘special’ name for their ‘special’ kids, these will be changed as well, thanks to social media. After all, what are unique ‘screen-names’ for?

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Topics:  Name Change 

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