A political storm has erupted as a G20 Summit dinner invitation bears the name ‘President of Bharat,’ breaking away from the customary ‘President of India’ title. The move has triggered sharp reactions, with the opposition alleging a possible name change for India to Bharat, framing it as an “assault” on the unity of states. In contrast, ruling parties celebrate the shift as a step towards breaking free from a colonial mindset—a concept championed by Prime Minister Nanrednra Modi in his Independence Day address.
The controversy gained momentum when a Central government booklet referring to Narendra Modi as ‘Prime Minister of Bharat’ during his visit to Indonesia for the ASEAN-India Summit surfaced.
BHARAT AND INDIA BLOCK
This development appears to be linked to the formation of a political alliance among opposition parties. Two months ago, the coalition of opposition parties collectively named themselves “INDIA” ahead of 2024 general election. This potential rebranding to ‘Bharat’ may, in part, be motivated by these political developments.
Arvind Kejriwal, the chief of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), questioned whether the ruling party would contemplate renaming the country ‘BJP’ if the opposition alliance chose to identify itself as ‘Bharat.’
Sharad Pawar, the chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), firmly asserted that no one has the authority to alter the country’s name. He expressed his puzzlement over the ruling party’s concern regarding the name ‘INDIA bloc’ adopted by the opposition alliance.
This movement finds strong support in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the right-wing nationalist group from which the BJP originated. RSS’s chief, Mohan Bhagwat, has emphasized the need to use “Bharat” consistently worldwide.
The G20 invitation’s use of “Bharat” has garnered praise within the BJP, with Dharmendra Pradhan, a minister, considering it a move toward shedding a “colonial mentality.”
MODI AND INDIA
In response to the opposition bloc adopting the name ‘INDIA,’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier drew parallels with East India Company, Indian Mujahideen, and Popular Front of India (PFI), highlighting their use of ‘India’ in their names.
In his Independence Day speech, PM Modi emphasized the need to break free from a subjugation mindset, underscoring the importance of shedding colonial-era mentalities.
While some speculate about the name change, Union Minister Anurag Thakur dismissed it as mere rumours. he said “I think these are just rumours. Anyone who objects to the word Bharat clearly shows their mindset.”
PM Modi has advised the Union Council of Ministers to refrain from engaging in the India vs. Bharat debate.
THE UNITED NATIONS
Amid rumours of a potential name change from ‘India’ to ‘Bharat,’ a top UN official clarified that the United Nations considers requests from countries to change their names when received. The official cited the example of Turkey’s transition to ‘Turkiye.’
GOVERNMENT MULLS CHANGING COUNTRY’S NAME TO ‘BHARAT
The government is reportedly considering proposing a resolution to change the country’s name. They are likely to present the resolution in the special session of parliament scheduled to begin on September 18. The absence of any official agenda for this special session has fuelled speculation regarding this potential move.
THE NAMING HISTORY
The historical backdrop reveals that in 1947. When British rule ended, India had three coexisting names, each with its own history and significance: India, Hindustan, and Bharat. “India” has its roots in Sanskrit, referring to the Indus River in the north. British maps popularized this name during their rule. “Hindustan” was used by various cultures and rulers for centuries to describe a large part of the subcontinent. “Bharat” traces back to ancient Sanskrit texts. It mentions Bharata clan in the Rig Veda and its association with the legendary king in the Mahabharata. The formal decision on India’s name came in 1949 when the constitution was drafted. It recognised both “India” and “Bharat.” However, both names continue to be widely used in the country. “Bharat” features in national anthem and on Indian passports.