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From India To Bharat, President Murmu Invite Controversy Explained

Indian President Droupadi Murmu says President of Bharat in an invitation for a dinner event during the G20 Summit being held in New Delhi.

Vivek Singh
President Droupadi Murmu (Photo Courtesy: @rashtrapatibhvn/Twitter)
President Droupadi Murmu (Photo Courtesy: @rashtrapatibhvn/Twitter)

The invitations issued by Indian President Droupadi Murmu, where she referred to herself as the "President of Bharat," for a dinner event during the G20 summit, have raised suspicions that the government might be considering a potential alteration of the nation's official name. However, there is no official declaration about this.

G20 Invite Raised A Controversy About India's Name

Traditionally, invitations from Indian constitutional bodies have consistently used the term "India" in English and "Bharat" in Hindi. However, the invitations for the G20 dinner, which were in English, referred to Murmu as the President of "Bharat." The Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and its active promotion of Hindi, critics interpreted the use of "Bharat" in these invitations as a potential indication that the government is pushing for an official name change.

Over time, Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration has been renaming towns and cities with colonial-era names, claiming it is part of an effort to help India move beyond what they describe as a colonial mindset.

Official Name Of The Country

In English, the South Asian nation is known as India, but it's also referred to as Bharat, Bharata, and Hindustan in various Indian languages. The English version of the constitution starts with "We, the people of India..." and later states that "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States."

In the Hindi version of the constitution, "India" is replaced with "Bharat" throughout, except for the section defining the country's names, which states, "Bharat, that is India, shall be a Union of States." Changing India's name to exclusively "Bharat" would require a constitutional amendment, needing approval by a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.

Is the Government Going To Change The Name Of The Country?

The timing of the controversy appears significant to some observers. It has arisen shortly after the government's surprise announcement of a five-day special parliamentary session later this month, without revealing any specific agenda. This announcement has led to unverified reports suggesting that a potential name change might be under consideration and could be discussed and approved during the session.

While there hasn't been official confirmation of such a proposal, individuals within the government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have proposed that the name "Bharat" should hold greater prominence than "India."

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological predecessor of the BJP, has consistently advocated for referring to the country as "Bharat." A request for comment made to a government spokesperson has not received an immediate response.

History Of India And Bharat Names

The names "India" and "Bharat" have deep historical roots in the Indian subcontinent.

1. India:

The name "India" derives from the river Indus, known as "Sindhu" in Sanskrit. The Greeks, including Alexander the Great, referred to the region southeast of the Indus River as "India" during their interactions with the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE.

Subsequently, "India" became a widely recognized term for the subcontinent and was used during the period of British colonial rule, which began in the 18th century. The British Empire officially named the territory "India."

2. Bharat

The name "Bharat" has even older origins and is rooted in ancient Indian scriptures, particularly in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. In these texts, "Bharat" refers to the legendary emperor Bharata, an important figure in Indian mythology. The term "Bharat" is often associated with the socio-cultural and historical identity of the Indian subcontinent. It symbolizes the indigenous heritage and traditions of the region.

Throughout Indian history, the name "Bharat" has been used to evoke a sense of continuity with the ancient past and to emphasize the rich cultural and historical heritage of the land.


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