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India Wants to Change Its Name to Bharat


The name "Bharat" is widely used to refer to India in the Hindi language, the official language of the country spoken by the relative majority of its residents. This word also appears in the country's Constitution adopted in 1949, although only once: the first paragraph of its first article declares: “India, that is, Bharat, will be a union of states.” However, in official documents in English, the word "India" is always used.

And now the Narendra Modi government has apparently decided to change this long-standing practice, and an invitation to dinner on Saturday 9 September was sent to the G20 summit participants in the name of “President of Bharat”. And in a press release on the occasion of the ASEAN-India summit, Narendra Modi himself is called the “Prime Minister of Bharat.” As for the official renaming, the Indian Parliament may consider this issue as early as September 18.

The word “Bharat” comes from Sanskrit, the ancient language of Indian culture and learning. Modern Indian languages such as Hindi or Bengali are about as similar to it as modern French or Italian is to the Latin of Cicero or Caesar.

In Hindu literature, the land between the Himalayas and the ocean is called "Bharatvarsh". According to Hindu mythology, Bharata was the king of Hastinapura (today a city located east of Delhi). He conquered all the surrounding lands and was considered a righteous king. In the oldest Hindu text, the Rig Veda, Bharata is also mentioned as a tribal name. The word "Bharata" in Sanskrit also means fertile land and can symbolize culture. “India was Bharata, the sacred land of the Hindus, and it is not for nothing that the main places of Hindu pilgrimage are located in the four corners of India,” wrote future Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1927.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led India since 2014 and represents the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is also in power in most states. The party is closely associated with the right-wing paramilitary nationalist organization RSS, which believes India should be a “Hindu state.” According to the latest census, 2011, Hinduism was practiced by about 80% of Indians. Narendra Modi joined the RSS as a teenager and rose high in its ranks. Since India's independence, the RSS has been banned three times. The first time was after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, when the RSS was accused of plotting his assassination. These charges were later dropped.

The Modi government has called a special session of Parliament to be held from September 18-22. Opposition politicians and commentators believe that renaming the country will be discussed at this session. This will be the first session in the new Parliament building, which already has a Greater Bharat map. This map includes areas of neighboring countries including parts of Afghanistan, all of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

India's neighbors have already expressed an official protest in connection with this.


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