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Will India change its name to Bharat? Explanation of the controversial G20 call


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NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Invitations from India’s President Draupadi Mormo, who calls herself the “President of Bharat,” to a dinner on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit has fueled speculation that the government may be about to change the country’s name.

What is the controversy over the name India?

Traditionally, invitations issued by Indian constitutional bodies have always mentioned India when the text is in English, and Bharat when the text is in Hindi.

However, the invitations – in English – to attend the G20 gala dinner are called Bharat’s Murmo President.

An official in the president’s office said they did not want to comment on the issue when asked by Reuters.

Given the Hindu nationalist ideology of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and its drive to increase the use of the Hindi language, critics responded to Bharat’s use in calls by pointing out that the government was pushing for an official name change.

Over the years, Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government changed the colonial names of towns and cities in the guise of helping India move beyond what it called a slavery mentality.

What is the official name of the country?

In English, the South Asian giant is called India, while in Indian languages ​​it is also called Bharat, Bharata, and Hindustan.

The preamble to the English version of the constitution begins with the words “We the people of India…”, and then in the first part of the document states that “India, that is, Bharat, shall be a federation of states”.

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In the Hindi language, the Constitution replaces India with the word Bharat everywhere, except for the part that specifies the names of the country, which says in Hindi: “Bharat, that is, India, shall be a federation of states.”

Changing the name of India to just Bharat would require an amendment to the constitution which would need to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.

Will the government officially change the name?

For some, the timing of the controversy is suggestive.

The incident comes just days after the government announced a surprise five-day session of parliament later this month, without disclosing any agenda. This move sparked unconfirmed reports that the name change could be discussed and approved during the session.

There was no confirmation that such a move was in the works, but members of the government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party suggested that the Bharat name should take precedence over India.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological father of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has always insisted that the country be called Bharat.

A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What is the history of both names?

Both names have existed for more than two thousand years.

While some supporters of the name Bharat say that the British colonialists called it “India”, historians say that the name predates colonial rule by centuries.

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India originates from the Indus River, which was called Sindhu in Sanskrit. Travelers from as far away as Greece had been identifying the area southeast of the Indus River as India even before Alexander the Great’s Indian campaign in the third century BC.

The name Bharat is even older, as it was mentioned in ancient Indian scriptures. But according to some experts, it was used as a term of social and cultural identity rather than geography.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik; Editing by William Maclean).

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Krishn reports on political and strategic affairs from the Indian subcontinent. He previously worked for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an international investigative consortium; Indian Express. and Caravan magazine, writing about defense, politics, law, blocs, media, elections, and investigative projects. A graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, Krishen has won numerous awards for his work. Contact: +918527322283

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