Friday, July 19, 2024
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Will India’s name go the way of Turkey?

The host nation of 2023’s Group of 20 (G-20) summit has two official names: India and Bharat. The first was inherited from the country’s former British overlords; the other derives from Sanskrit and emanates an ancient sanctity. So there was much social media fluttering when a dinner invitation went out to conference guests from the “President of Bharat”, rather than the expected and globally familiar appellation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi prefers the Sanskrit, as do the Hindu nationalists who form his core support. Indeed, the word echoes in his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

There have been relatively recent precedents for change among other former British colonies. Burma, Rhodesia and Ceylon are now officially Myanmar (1989), Zimbabwe (1980) and Sri Lanka (1972), respectively. Why should India not decide which name it prefers?

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