‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in President invite stirs debate on country’s name

Instead of the usual, “President of the Republic of India” the word “Bharat” was substituted, creating ripples of speculation among political parties, especially the Opposition INDIA alliance. 

Invitations sent by President Draupadi Murmu to heads of state, government and Chief Ministers of Indian States for an official banquet on the occasion of the G20 Summit being held in New Delhi created a flutter as the word “India” was replaced with “Bharat”.

Instead of the usual, “President of the Republic of India” the word “Bharat” was substituted, creating ripples of speculation among political parties, especially the Opposition INDIA alliance. Opposition leaders alleged that the shift to using the name “Bharat” instead of India in English language communication, was a way of preventing the alliance from being identified with the country’s name or could even be a signal from the government that the special session of Parliament to be held between September 18-22 would be about some change in the name of the country.

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Although taking a nuanced position, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of resorting to a politics of “divide”. “Mr. Modi can continue to distort history and divide India, that is Bharat, that is a Union of States. But we will not be deterred,” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X.

“After all, what is the objective of INDIA parties? It is BHARAT—Bring Harmony, Amity, Reconciliation And Trust Judega BHARAT, Jeetega INDIA!” Mr. Ramesh added.

Congress Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi said, “We accept both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ names and feel proud on them. The ‘I’ in ISRO is India, the ‘I’ in IITs is India, the ‘I’ in IIMs is India, the ‘I’ in IPS is India. The BJP’s politics has stooped so low because they are afraid of the INDIA alliance”.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders hailed the change in nomenclature in official communication. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was one of the first to react, posting on “X” : “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT – happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL.”

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the move should have happened “earlier”. “This should have happened earlier. This gives great satisfaction to the mind. ‘Bharat’ is our introduction. We are proud of it. The President has given priority to ‘Bharat’. This is the biggest statement to come out of the colonial mindset,” he said.

Government sources told The Hindu that all talk of a formal action in the upcoming session of Parliament to change the name of India was “rubbish”. “It is clearly stated in the Constitution that ‘India, that is Bharat, is a Union of States’ so where is there any need for any change?” said a senior Union Minister.

“The INDIA bloc of parties have tried to reduce the identity of the country to their alliance, which is not good, and therefore the use of the name ‘Bharat’ both as a decolonising nomenclature and to bring the name of the country out of this reductive exercise was required,” added the Minister.

This however, did not deter BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav from expressing a wish that the country formally adopt the sole name of ‘Bharat’ and remove all mention of ‘India’. “The entire country is demanding that should use the word ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’. The word ‘India’ is an abuse given to us by the British whereas the word ‘Bharat’ is a symbol of our culture. I want that there should be a change in our Constitution and the word ‘Bharat’ should be added to it,” he said.

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