“So the news is indeed true."
Rumours that the Indian government are considering changing the country’s name to ‘Bharat’ have come to light following the official invite for India’s G20 summit.
Photos of the invite have circulated on social media, with the words “President of Bharat” written on it instead of the usual “President of India”.
The invite reads: “The President of Bharat requests the pleasure of the company of (names) at dinner on Saturday at 20:00 hrs.”
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posted on X:
“So the news is indeed true.
“Rashtrapati Bhawan [the Presidential Palace] has sent out an invite for a G20 dinner on September 9th in the name of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the usual ‘President of India’.”
The term ‘Bharat’ is colloquially used to describe India in Hindi and has its origins in Sanskrit.
Official usage of the word has only grown since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in 2014.
Reports about a “special session”, coupled with the photo of the invite, have sparked rumours that Mr Modi’s BJP is planning to use the session to announce its intention to officially rename India.
The “special session” will be in place of the usual question hour and it is slated for September 18-22, 2023.
The “special session” marks a departure from the existing format of the three parliament sessions that are currently held.
Senior BJP figures have welcomed the rumours, with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, changing his location on X to “Assam, BHARAT”.
Rumours of the name change come just weeks after opposition leaders made an effort to rebrand themselves and call their bloc INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) ahead of crucial elections in 2024.
Naturally, opposition figures who are part of the INDIA bloc criticised the rumoured plans, saying India does not belong to one political party, but to over a billion citizens.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said:
“While there is no constitutional objection to calling India ‘Bharat’, which is one of the country’s two official names, I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’, which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries.”
While there is no constitutional objection to calling India “Bharat”, which is one of the country’s two official names, I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with “India”, which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries. We should… pic.twitter.com/V6ucaIfWqj
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 5, 2023
Arvind Kejriwal also criticised the idea and said:
“If an alliance of some parties become ‘INDIA’, would they [BJP] change the name of the country?
“The country belongs to 140 crore people, not to a party.”
“Let’s assume if the India alliance renames itself as Bharat, would they rename Bharat as BJP then? What’s this joke?”
While ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ are both official words to refer to the country, the preamble to the Indian Constitution starts with:
“We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.”
The term ‘India’ has been used since independence from British rule in 1947, by government ministries, top schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, educational institutions and airports.