The Asian country of India is reported to be gearing towards a name change. This has been confirmed in a dinner invitation letter to G20 leaders who are due to meet in New Delhi for this year’s summit. In this letter, India’s president, Droupadi Murmu, was referred to as President of Bharat. Since then, many Indians and non-Indians begin to ask why India is changing its name to Bharat. In this article, we have delved into the discussion.
According to local media reports, formalities to officially change the country’s name, could start as early as this month.
News of the impending name change of the world’s most populous country, began trending on various social media platforms. On X (formerly Twitter), the hashtag, #PresidentOfBharat, started trending soon after the invitation letter appeared online.
'Bharat jodo yatra' was a visionary step but this invitation is being termed as an attack on democracy because it uses word Bharat instead of India.
बड़ी विडंबना है! 🤣 pic.twitter.com/WkmhT5i7OC
— Open Letter (@openletteryt) September 5, 2023
India has been the name enshrined in the constitution of the country. The name existed even before the country gained independence from the British on August 15, 1947. However, the new name, Bharat, has also been interchangeably used. In fact, Bharat is the name for India in most indigenous languages of the country.
The impending name change has been criticized my many opposition politicians, but endorsed by most politicians on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bloc.
Why is India changing its name to Bharat?
The name change is influenced by the resolve to clear the country off any colonial identity. India is a name given to the country by its former colonial master, Britain. So, the impending name change is seen by many as an effort to erase Britain’s colonial works on India.
According to Hon. Harnath Singh Yadav who is the Member of Parliament for Uttar Pradesh in India’s Upper House, and a member of the ruling BJP, the name “India” is an abusive word the British imposed on them during the days of colonialism.
“The word ‘India’ is an abuse given to us by the British whereas the word ‘Bharat’ is a symbol of our culture,” Hon. Yadav ANI news agency.
Also, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, described the impending name change as “another blow to slavery mentality”, in a subtle jab to Britain which colonized the country for over 200 years.
Meanwhile, in the past, the government of Narenda Modi changed names of several landmark buildings and places in order to give them a new identity.
In 2015, the famous Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi, named after a Mughal king, was changed to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road. This was after protests from BJP party leaders.
Just last year, the government also renamed a colonial-era avenue in the heart of the capital that is used for ceremonial military parades.
What is the meaning of Bharat?
The name Bharat is derived from Bharata, which itself comes from Hindu literature. Initially, Bharata was a western region of the Gangetic Valley before it was more broadly used to describe the Indian subcontinent and the region of Greater India.
How Indians react to the name change
Many Indians have been reacting to the idea of changing the name ‘India’ to Bharat. They have taken to social media platforms such as X (formerly known as Twitter) and Facebook.
Celebrated former Indian cricketer, Virender Sehwag, blasted people that oppose to the name change idea. According to him, the move should not been seen with a political eye. In a post on X, Sehwag said:
“Funny when people think having a desire that our nation be addressed as Bharat is viewed as a political thing.
“I am no fan of any particular political party. There are good people in both national parties and there are very many incompetent people in both parties. I once again reaffirm i have never had, nor have any political aspirations. If I did have any, would have gladly accepted the last two LS elections from both parties. And if I had to, on-field achievements were enough to get a ticket from either party. Speaking heart out is different from political aspiration. My only interest is “Bharat”.
“As for the United Opposition calling themselves I.N.D.I.A , they can very well call themselves B.H.A.R.A.T , there are very many creative people who can suggest apt full forms for the same. Congress even had a yatra called the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Unfortunately many people feel insecure of the word “Bharat”. In my view, irrespective of the alliance name, elections will be labelled between Modi vs the leader of opposition. May the best win.
“It will just give me a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment if we are addressed as a nation by the name “Bharat.”
Funny when people think having a desire that our nation be addressed as Bharat is viewed as a political thing.
I am no fan of any particular political party. There are good people in both national parties and there are also very many incompetent people in both parties. I once… pic.twitter.com/9aJoJ6FEGp
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) September 6, 2023
“‘Nation’ is just an idea. When this idea burns through your mind and sinks into your heart and your passion rises towards the idea, we have a Nation. ‘Bharat’ is a cultural identity that resonates in everybody’s mind and can evoke this passion. India is an English name. Bharat as an utterance itself reverberates in everybody’s hearts and minds,” YouTuber Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev posted to X.
‘Nation’ is just an idea. When this idea burns through your mind and sinks into your heart and your passion rises towards the idea, we have a Nation. ‘Bharat’ is a cultural identity that resonates in everybody’s mind and can evoke this passion. India is an English name. Bharat as… pic.twitter.com/je6FtEeiuv
— Sadhguru (@SadhguruJV) September 6, 2023