Monday, April 15, 2024
Homest editorialRumblings of an India name change

Rumblings of an India name change

A dinner invitation sent out in the name of the President of “Bharat” to key guests of the Group of 20 summit that New Delhi just hosted has triggered speculation that the world’s most populous nation is poised to adopt the nativist name, switching out the colonial-era appellation, India. At the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seated behind a place card that said Bharat, which is a Sanskrit word that appears in early Hindu texts. Bharat also means India in Hindi. Much of India is currently agog with speculation that the change could be made when its Parliament convenes for a special session on Sept 18. Is a name change necessary? For most Indians, much depends on which side of the nationalist debate they are on.

The Indian Constitution’s Article 1 begins with the words, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states”. It is the only time Bharat is used in the document. For several figures within Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), this isn’t quite enough. For them, “India” smacks of continuing “slavery” to an era of colonial domination. Taking a cue from their political masters, several Bollywood figures and at least one retired cricket star have added their name to the list of people clamouring for Bharat. 

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