Could India change its name to Bharat? G20 invitation fuels rumours

Could India change its name to Bharat? G20 invitation fuels rumours

  • G20 world leaders were invited to a dinner with the ‘President of Bharat’
  • Use of the Sanskrit word has sparked speculation over a possible name change

India is buzzing with speculation over whether its government has plans to change the country’s name after issuing invitations to the up-coming G20 summit referring to it as ‘Bharat’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government replaced the English language name ‘India’ with the Sanskrit word on dinner invitations that were sent out to world leaders attending this week’s summit.

As a result, guests have been invited to a state dinner with ‘the President of Bharat,’ as opposed to ‘the President of India’. 

The move that reflects Modi’s and his Hindu nationalist party’s efforts to eliminate what it sees as colonial-era names, as well as symbols of British rule.

Such symbols have been removed from the country’s urban landscape, political institutions and history books – but a change in name would be hugely significant.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government replaced the English-language name ‘India’ with the Sanskrit word on dinner invitations that were sent out to world leaders attending this week’s summit in the country

The nation of more than 1.4 billion people is officially known by two names, India and Bharat, but the former is most commonly used, both at home and abroad.

However, Modi himself typically refers to India as Bharat – an ancient Sanskrit word which many historians believe dates back to early Hindu texts.

The word also means India in Hindi, and is one of the two official names for the country under its constitution.

The touted change is backed by officials of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

They argue that the name India was introduced by British colonials and is a ‘symbol of slavery.’ The British ruled India for about 200 years until the country gained independence in 1947.

‘Another blow to slavery mentality,’ the top elected official of Uttarakhand state, Pushkar Singh Dhami, said on X, formerly known as Twitter. Dhami, who is a leader of Modi’s governing party, shared the dinner invitation sent to G20 guests in his post.

According to The Guardian, the government has called a special session of parliament late this month, but has not revealed the legislative agenda.

Pictured: A screenshot of the invitation inviting world G20 world leaders to dinner with ‘The President of Bharat’, rather than the President of India

Indian broadcaster News18 said unnamed government sources have suggested BJP lawmakers are planning to introduce a special resolution that would give precedence to the name Bharat over that of India.

Modi’s party has long tried to erase names related to India’s Mughal and colonial past.

In 2015, New Delhi’s famous Aurangzeb Road, named after a Mughal king, was changed to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road after protests from Modi’s party leaders. 

Last year, the government also renamed a colonial-era avenue in the heart of New Delhi that is used for ceremonial military parades.

Modi’s government says the name changes are an effort to reclaim India’s Hindu past. India’s opposition parties, however, criticized the move.

‘While there is no constitutional objection to calling India ‘Bharat,’ which is one of the country’s two official names, I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India,’ which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries,’ opposition lawmaker Shashi Tharoor said on X.

Tharoor said Indians should ‘continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history, a name that is recognized around the world.’

However, former Test cricketer Virender Sehwag said he welcomed the potential name change and urged India’s cricket board to begin using Bharat.

People travel on cycle rickshaws near a bus shelter displaying a G20 communication with a portrait of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on September 4, 202

‘India is a name given by the British (and) it has been long overdue to get our original name ‘Bharat’ back,’ he wrote on social media.

Disputes over ‘India’ versus ‘Bharat’ have gained ground since opposition parties in July announced a new alliance – called INDIA – to unseat Modi and defeat his party ahead of national elections in 2024. 

The acronym stands for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.

Since then, some officials in Modi’s party have demanded that the country be called Bharat instead of India.

Source: Read Full Article