What's in a Name? The story behind Victor & Paramvir
I have often been asked did I change my name after I moved to the US, the answer
is no I did not change my name. Victor is my original name and here is the story
behind it -
My parents named me Victor because on the day I was born India defeated Pakistan 1-0 in
the Tokyo Olympic Games to win her 7th Olympic Hockey Gold Medal. The
victory was very sweet and important to India because Pakistan had defeated India
1-0 in the 1960 Olympics final game ending India’s dominance in the sport. Before that
loss, between 1928 and 1956 India had won six Olympic gold medals, they were undefeated
in 30 consecutive games, scoring 197 goals giving away only 8. So the 1964 victory was specially
sweet, the nation was jubilant and my parents,caught up in the moment, were very happy as well
-- hence the name Victor
Here's what my elder brother had to say about this: "we were in our
on Mathura Road (in Delhi) having just passed the Lodi Road Crossing in New Delhi, when we decided
on the name Victor because the news of India having won the hockey olympic medal was all over the
radio and people were very happy. We were already very excited about the new addition to the
family and had been thinking hard about the name when we heard of this great victory and so
immediately decided to call Victor 'Victor'"
I officially became “Paramvir” when my parents went to register me in
Modern School, I was around 6 years old.
While filling in the form the registrar commented that I had a very western name. My parents
reacted by changing it to “Param Vir”. For years my mother wrote it as such but in time I
removed the space between “m” and “v” and it became Paramvir.
Param means highest and Vir means brave (warrior), put together “Param Vir” means
"Bravest of the Brave" in Hindi. The PVC or
Param Vir Chakra
is India's highest military decoration awarded for the highest degree of valor or self-sacrifice
in the presence of the enemy. It is similar to the British Victoria Cross, US Medal of Honor,
French Legion of Honor, and Russian Cross of St. George.
Notice, Victor is part of Victoria Cross; Paramvir is part of Param Vir Chakra; and
the British Victoria Cross is equivalent to India's Param Vir Chakra. This connection was
probably very real for my parents who had grown up in pre-independent India, under the
So Paramvir and Victor are pretty close. These days I use them interchangeably, most of
my award certificates have “Victor Bahl” on them and almost all my scientific
publications and patents have “Paramvir Bahl” on it. For those who do not know me this
causes a bit of confusion but I have come to accept and even enjoy it. I respond to both
names and like them both, you can use the one that you like better.