Press review

Bharat G20 invitation fuels rumours India may change name

23:36, Tuesday, 05 September, 2023
Bharat G20 invitation fuels rumours India may change name

India was buzzing with speculation over rumoured plans to scrap official use of the country’s English name, after a state-issued invitation to the G20 summit referred to it as Bharat.

The government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been working to remove lingering symbols of British rule from India’s urban landscape, political institutions and history books, but this could be the biggest move yet.
     India hosts the G20 summit this weekend, and world leaders have received an invitation to a state dinner hosted by the “president of Bharat”.

Modi himself typically refers to India as Bharat, a word dating back to ancient Hindu scriptures written in Sanskrit, and one of two official names for the country under its constitution.

Members of his Hindu nationalist ruling party, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), have previously campaigned against using the name India, which has its roots in western antiquity and was imposed during the British conquest.

The government has called a special session of parliament for later in the month, but remains tight-lipped about its legislative agenda, but the broadcaster News18 said unnamed government sources had told it that BJP lawmakers would put forward a special resolution to give precedence to the name Bharat.

Rumours of the plan were met with a mix of opposition and enthusiastic support.

Shashi Tharoor, of the opposition Congress party, said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter: “I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’.”

“We should continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history, a name that is recognised around the world.”

The former Test cricketer Virender Sehwag said he welcomed the prospect of a name change and urged India’s cricket board to begin using Bharat on team uniforms. He wrote: “India is a name given by the British (and) it has been long overdue to get our original name ’Bharat’ back.”

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