NEW DELHI, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Calls for Indian President Draupadi Murmu to call himself the “President of India” at a dinner ahead of the G20 summit have sparked speculation that the government will change the country’s name.
What is the controversy over India’s name?
By convention, invitations issued by Indian constitutional bodies always mention the name India when the text is in English and Bharat when the text is in Hindi.
However, the invitations — in English — to the G20 dinner invited Murmu as India’s president.
An official in the president’s office declined to comment on the issue when asked by Reuters.
Critics responded that the government was pushing for the name Bharat to be officially replaced on invitations, given the Hindu-nationalist ideology of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and its drive to promote the Hindi language.
For years, Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been changing the colonial names of towns and cities to help India move past what it says is slavery.
What is the official name of the country?
In English, the South Asian giant is known as India, and in Indian languages as Bharat, Bharat and Hindustan.
The Preamble of the English version of the Constitution begins with the words “We, the People of India…” and then part one of the document states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.
In Hindi, the Constitution replaces India with Bharat everywhere, except in the part where it defines the country’s names and states in Hindi, “Bharat, that is, India, shall be the Union of States”.
An amendment to the Constitution to change India’s name to Bharat only would have to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament.
Will the government officially change the name?
For some, the timing of the controversy is suggestive.
The incident comes days after the government announced a surprise five-day special session of Parliament for the end of this month, without releasing any agenda. The move prompted unconfirmed reports that a name change might be discussed and passed during the session.
It has not confirmed that such a move is in the works, but members of the government and members of the ruling BJP have suggested that the name Bharat should be prioritized over India.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent, has always insisted that the country be called Bharat.
A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
What is the history of the two names?
Both names are more than two thousand years old.
While some proponents of the name Bharat claim that “India” was given by British colonialists, historians say the name predates colonial rule by several centuries.
India comes from the river Indus, which is called Sindhu in Sanskrit. BC Even before Alexander the Great’s Indian campaign in the 3rd century AD, travelers from as far away as Greece would identify the region southeast of the Indus as India.
The name Bharata is even more ancient, found in the ancient Indian Vedas. But according to some experts, it was used as a socio-cultural landmark rather than a geographical one.
Reporting by Krishnan Kaushik, Editing by William McLean
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