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India, officially known as the Republic of India, has been the subject of a recent debate regarding …

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India, officially known as the Republic of India, has been the subject of a recent debate regarding its name. The opening line of India's constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”[0] This line emphasizes that India and Bharat are two names for the same country. While there is no constitutional objection to calling India ‘Bharat,' some individuals, including politicians and members of the opposition Congress party, have expressed concerns about completely dispensing with the name ‘India.' They argue that the name ‘India' has built up incalculable brand value over centuries.

The debate over the name change gained momentum when Indian President Droupadi Murmu referred to herself as the “President of Bharat” in a G20 dinner invitation instead of the customary “President of India.”[1] This move sparked controversy and criticism, with some arguing that the name of the country was being distorted.[2] The controversy comes as India prepares to host the G20 Summit in New Delhi, with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, attending the event.[3]

Supporters of the name change argue that the name ‘India' was introduced by British colonials and is seen as a symbol of slavery.[2] They believe that ‘Bharat' is a more appropriate and culturally significant name for the country.[4] The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing religious nationalist group from which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) originated, strongly supports the name change.[5] RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stated that the name of the country should be ‘Bharat' wherever one goes in the world.

However, opposition politicians and critics of the name change argue that India is a name with significant brand value that should not be discarded. They believe that both names, ‘India' and ‘Bharat,' can coexist and be used interchangeably. The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a coalition of opposition parties formed to challenge the ruling BJP in the next general election, sees the name change as an attempt to undermine their alliance.[6]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cautioned his ministers not to comment on the issue unless authorized, signaling that the government is aware of the sensitive nature of the debate.[7] There are speculations that a resolution to officially change India's name to Bharat will be brought up in a special session of Parliament scheduled for September 18.[8] However, the INDIA party and its leader Shashi Tharoor oppose the name change, emphasizing the brand value of the name ‘India' and suggesting that both names can be used interchangeably by citizens.

In conclusion, the debate over India's name change from ‘India' to ‘Bharat' has sparked controversy and differing opinions. While some argue for the cultural significance and historical roots of the name ‘Bharat,' others emphasize the brand value and recognition associated with the name ‘India.' As the country prepares to host the G20 Summit, the issue remains a topic of discussion and speculation. Ultimately, the decision on whether to officially change India's name rests with the government and Parliament.

0. “Why a G20 invite calling India by its Sanskrit name is ruffling some feathers” CNN, 6 Sep. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/06/asia/g20-summit-bharat-india-name-row-intl-hnk/index.html

1. “Morning briefing: US on G20 joint declaration, Modi's message on ‘Bharat’ debate” Hindustan Times, 7 Sep. 2023, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/morning-briefing-us-on-g20-joint-declaration-modis-message-on-bharat-debate-all-the-latest-news-101694049885050.html

2. “India or Bharat? Narendra Modi's G20 invitation sparks name-change row” The Jerusalem Post, 6 Sep. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/international/article-757771

3. “”If We Get Requests Like That…”: UN Amid India's Name Change Row” NDTV, 7 Sep. 2023, https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/if-we-get-requests-like-that-un-amid-indias-name-change-row-4366913

4. “‘New Bharat’: How India’s cartoonists see the debate about changing the country’s name” Scroll.in, 6 Sep. 2023, https://scroll.in/article/1055502/new-bharat-how-indias-cartoonists-see-the-debate-about-changing-the-countrys-name

5. “India or Bharat? G20 invitations throw up question dating back centuries” The Guardian, 7 Sep. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/07/india-or-bharat-g20-invitations-throw-up-question-dating-back-centuries

6. “Indian president starts calling the country “Bharat”” WORLD News Group, 5 Sep. 2023, https://wng.org/sift/indian-president-calls-the-country-bharat-on-g20-dinner-invitations-1693943686

7. “`Stay Away And Don`t Comment`: PM Modi`s Stern Message To Ministers Amid INDIA-Bharat Row” Zee News, 7 Sep. 2023, https://zeenews.india.com/india/stay-away-and-dont-comment-pm-modis-stern-message-to-ministers-amid-india-bharat-row-2658914.html

8. “‘Just Rumours': Anurag Thakur on India-Bharat Speculations Sparked by G20 Invite” The Quint, 5 Sep. 2023, https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/president-of-bharat-dinner-invite-sparks-political-row-congress-bjp-name

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