Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has replaced the name India with the Sanskrit word, “Bharat” in dinner invitations sent to guests attending the Group of 20 summit.
Instead of “President of India,” Indian President, Droupadi Murmu is referred to as “President of Bharat” in the invitation sent to G20 attendees on Tuesday, September 5, 2023.
India is hosting the annual G20 summit in New Delhi on Saturday, September 9, 2023 and Sunday, September 10, 2023. Many world leaders, including U.S President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, are slated to attend.
The Asian nation of more than 1.4 billion people is officially known by two names, India and Bharat, but the former is most commonly used, both domestically and internationally.
Bharat is an ancient Sanskrit word which many historians believe dates back to early Hindu texts. The word also means India in Hindi language.
Officials of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are in support of the name change. They argue that the name India was introduced by British colonials, who ruled the country for about 200 years until the country gained independence in 1947, and is a “symbol of slavery.”
The BJP has made attempts to erase names related to India’s Mughal and colonial past.
In 2015, New Delhi’s famous Aurangzeb Road, named after a Mughal king, was changed to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road after protests from Modi’s party leaders.
Last year, the government also renamed a colonial-era avenue in the heart of New Delhi that is used for ceremonial military parades.
Sharing the G20 dinner invitation on X, top elected official of Uttarakhand state, Pushkar Singh Dhami, lauded the government’s decision, calling it “Another blow to slavery mentality.”
Also, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister of Assam state, posted, “Happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards Amrit Kaal.”
Amrit Kaal loosely translates as the “golden era.” It is a term the Prime Minister and other government officials use to refer to the years leading up to 2047 when India will turn 100. They claim by then India will be among the most prosperous and developed nations in the world.
Opposition Expresses Criticism
While the ruling party hailed the use of ‘Bharat’ on the G20 invite, members of the opposition, however, criticized the move.
Opposition lawmaker, Shashi Tharoor noted on X, “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.”
Tharoor added that Indians should “continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history.”
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.K. Stalin said that after “non-BJP forces united to dethrone the fascist BJP regime” and named their alliance INDIA(Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), now the BJP wants to change ‘India’ for ‘Bharat.’
“BJP promised to TRANSFORM India, but all we got is a name change after 9 years! Seems like the BJP is rattled by a single term called India because they recognise the strength of unity within the opposition. During the elections, ‘India’ will chase BJP out of power!M.K. Stalin
Disputes over “India” versus “Bharat” have become popular since opposition parties in July announced a new alliance called INDIA to unseat Modi and defeat his party ahead of national elections in 2024.
Since then, some officials in Modi’s party have demanded that the country be called Bharat instead of India.