Bharat or India? India’s renaming campaign by certain Hindu nationalists has raised controversy

Bharat The Prime Minister Narendra Modi administration has under criticism for referring to India as “Bharat” in invitations to a dinner party for the upcoming G-20 Summit in New Delhi. The word is used to refer to India in Hindi, and detractors claim that its use is the newest example of a nationalist movement in the midst of a successful year for the nation.

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Bharat India currently has the largest population and the fastest-growing major economy in the world. In addition to hosting the G-20 Summit this year, which takes place from September 9 to 10, the nation just finished a historic moon landing.

The invitations referred to Droupadi Murmu, the president of India, as the “President of Bharat.” The announcement of the invitations came two days after Mohan Bhagwat, the leader of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and a key figure in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideology, suggested in a speech that the nation should refer to itself as Bharat rather than India.

But this must not be used anymore. No matter where you are in the world, the name of the nation will always be Bharat, according to Bhagwat.

Many BJP leaders have applauded this strategy. However, there has been no official confirmation that the administration is considering a name change.

The BJP and Modi have made it clear that they wish to separate contemporary India from its colonial heritage. As a result, there has been a tendency of renaming streets with names that have colonial associations. Evidently, the BJP wants to refer to India using the phrase that Michael Kugelman, the head of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., believes is more appropriate.

The focus on rebranding to the name Bharat may also be somewhat driven by the alliance of opposition parties naming themselves “INDIA” two months ago ahead of the Indian general election in the spring of 2024, according to historian of contemporary India Ravinder Kaur.

“The ruling party is partially attempting to respond by coming up with an alternative name. But what’s fascinating is that the constitution already recognizes India’s dual name,” Kaur argues.

The first sentence of Article 1 of the Indian Constitution reads, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

The Sanskrit word for the Indus River, sindhu, was Anglicized to become the name India, which was first used from 1858 to 1947, when the Crown ruled India. Ancient Hindu sacred scriptures known as the Puranas are where the term Bharat, which is also Sanskrit, comes from. The writings speak of a vast landmass where people reside, and Bharatavarsa is the name of one of its regions.

Hindustan, which translates to “land of the Indus” in Persian, is another well-known moniker for the nation. During the Mughal era, it became a common term to refer to the nation, and Hindu nationalists commonly use it today. However, the constitution does not formally recognize it as India’s legal name.

After images of the dinner party invitation went viral on X, formerly known as Twitter, there has been some intense discussion on social media about what name to use.

“BJP’s opposition to India’s guiding principle of unity in diversity has reached a new low. Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, said on X, “Reducing India’s multiple names—from Hindustan and India to now merely Bharat—shows its pettiness and intolerance.

Others, though, applauded the proposed shift as anti-imperialist and true to India’s past.

Former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag wrote in a post, “We are Bhartiyas, India is a name the British gave us, and it has been long overdue to regain our original name ‘Bharat’ back officially.

In the past, petitions to rename India as Bharat were submitted with the Supreme Court of India. However, judges have so far refrained from becoming involved in the dispute.

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