New Delhi (Agency): The country currently has two names. The Indian government now officially recognizes the English name “India” for global use and the Hindi name ‘Bharat’ for use within the country. Is it necessary for India to alter its official name to Bharat? Would this change have a significant impact on people’s lives? Is calling India Bharat more advantageous to people’s lives? People are often used to the old name, like Chennai continues to be called Madras and Mumbai as Bombay.
The RSS, the ideological parent of the B.J.P., has always insisted on calling the country Bharat. “At times, we use India so those who speak English will understand. But we must stop using this. The name of the country Bharat will remain Bharat wherever you go,” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said recently.
The President of India, Draupadi Murmu, recently hosted a dinner for G20 world leaders. During the event, she called herself the “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India.” Similarly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to himself as the “Prime Minister of Bharat” during his recent trip to Indonesia.
These actions have led some people to believe the government may consider changing the country’s name. A special Parliament session has been announced from September 18 to 22, which suggests that a bill proposing the name change may be introduced soon. Implementing such a measure could have both domestic and global repercussions.
In 1949, the Constitution makers discussed the name of the new country. Various options, including ‘Bharat’, ‘Hindustan’, ‘Hind’, ‘Bharatbhumi’, and ‘Bharatvarsh’, were considered. Finally, they agreed that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States,” the country’s official name as stated in Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution.
The term “Bharat” is associated with promoting Hindu identity as a part of a broader ideological framework. It originates from the Hindu scriptures and refers to the Indian subcontinent. This term can be traced back to the Puranas and the Mahabharata, where a well-known king named ‘Bharat’ played a significant role. Although Greek historians and European colonizers commonly referred to India as “India,” the term “Bharat” has a rich history deeply rooted in Hindu mythology.
It’s not uncommon for names of people, streets, cities, and countries to change due to factors like governments or geopolitics. For example, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Iran have all undergone name changes. Even many Indian cities, like Allahabad (now Prayag Raj), Bombay (now Mumbai), and Madras (now Chennai), have had their names changed. The B.J.P. has renamed various cities and places associated with the Mughal and colonial periods. For instance, the Mughal Garden at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan was renamed Amrit Udyan.
Changing a name has its pros and cons. Politically, some speculate that the name change was an attempt to weaken the new opposition group, I.N.D.I.A. The opposition argues that India is a globally recognized democratic, secular and diverse nation that encompasses its modern history and reminds us of its struggle for independence from British colonial rule.
In the past, there have been failed attempts to change the name through legislation. Shantaram Naik, a member of Congress, introduced two private member Bills in Parliament in 2010 and 2012, calling for only Bharat as the official name. Yogi Adityanath, the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, also supported the proposal as an M.P. He suggested that “India that is Bharat” should be replaced with “Bharat which is Hindustan.
In 2015, the Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur, rejected the proposals when the court considered the issue. In 2020, the court dismissed a similar case. The court stated that the country’s triumphant synonym is Bharat, and Hindustan is its home name.” Bharat is where we dream, and Hindustan is where we live,” the court interpreted.
It’s worth noting that changing a country’s name is a bigger deal than renaming streets and cities. The Modi government is hurrying to name change, but it will likely to be smooth. The bill needs approval from Parliament’s special session from September 18 to 22 before the states can ratify it. A two-thirds majority vote in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is necessary to pass.
Secondly, The United Nations must accept the name change as the country is known as the Republic of India. But this will be fine, as media reports say the U.N. will agree.
Apart, the Government has to take care of practical matters like updating official documents, currency, and international agreements. However, these are routine matters and can be implemented once the Narendra Modi government gets the motion passed.
Also, if the name change happens, Modi will be the first Prime Minister of Bharat. (IPA Service)
By Kalyani Shankar