"Bharat" vs "India": Debating Identity and Nationalism in Hindu Nationalist Discoursewordpress,nationalism,Hindunationalism,identity,Bharat,India,debate,discourse
"Bharat" vs "India": Debating Identity and Nationalism in Hindu Nationalist Discourse

“Bharat” vs “India”: Debating Identity and Nationalism in Hindu Nationalist Discourse

5 minutes, 30 seconds Read

G-20 Summit Dinner Party Sparks Controversy with Reference to India as “Bharat


The upcoming G-20 Summit in New Delhi has ignited a heated debate over India‘s name. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has referred to India as “Bharat” in the invites for a dinner party, a move that critics argue is indicative of a nationalist push. This controversy comes at a time when India has emerged as the world’s most populous nation and the fastest-growing major economy. In this report, we will delve into the background of this debate, explore the philosophical implications of national identity, and provide insights on the potential consequences of this controversy.

The Historical and Cultural Context

To understand the significance of the choice of “Bharat” as an alternative name for India, it is crucial to examine the historical and cultural background. The name India is an Anglicization of the word “sindhu,” which means the Indus river in Sanskrit. During British colonial rule from 1858 to 1947, this name gained prominence. However, “Bharat” has its roots in ancient Hindu religious texts, the Puranas. It describes a vast landmass, with one region referred to as Bharatavarsa. Another commonly used name, Hindustan, originates from the Persian term for “land of the Indus” and gained popularity during the Mughal era.

Nationalist Agenda or Authentic Identity?

Critics argue that the usage of “Bharat” reflects a nationalist agenda pushed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seeking to distance India from its colonial past. The trend of renaming streets with colonial references has been observed, suggesting a broader effort to redefine India‘s identity. However, proponents of the name change argue that it is anti-imperialist and more authentic to India‘s history.

The debate over the name raises profound questions about the role of national identity in a rapidly changing globalized world. As Michael Kugelman, the director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., points out, Modi and the BJP’s inclination towards Bharat may be an attempt to present a more appropriate term representing the modern India. By emphasizing a distinct identity, they aim to consolidate a sense of pride among citizens and reclaim historical and cultural authenticity.

Constitutional Ambiguity and Political Dimensions

India‘s constitution recognizes both “India” and “Bharat” as the country’s official names. Article 1 of the Indian constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” This duality showcases the complexity of India‘s national identity and the incorporation of diverse cultural traditions into a cohesive nation.

The political dimension of this controversy cannot be ignored. The ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been vocal in advocating for the use of Bharat instead of India. While there has been no confirmation of a formal name change, the BJP leaders’ endorsement of this approach indicates a possible inclination towards rebranding India. Analysts suggest that this could be motivated, in part, by the opposition parties’ recent decision to name themselves “INDIA” ahead of the 2024 Indian general election.

Philosophical Discussions on Identity

The question of national identity goes beyond mere semantics; it touches upon philosophical debates about collective identity, cultural heritage, and unity in diversity. Ravinder Kaur, a historian of contemporary India, argues that India already has a double name enshrined in its constitution, and any attempt to exclusively use one name undermines its diverse cultural fabric.

India‘s rich history and pluralistic society encompass a myriad of languages, religions, and regional identities. Choosing a name for the nation requires sensitive consideration of these diverse identities and preserving the principles of inclusivity and unity that have underpinned India‘s foundation.

Editorial: Balancing History and Modernity

Promoting Unity and Inclusivity

In this era of globalization, the significance of national identity should not be undermined or distorted. India, as a diverse nation, needs to navigate the complexities of its cultural heritage while presenting a progressive image on the global stage. The choice of a name should reflect the country’s rich history and traditions, while also embracing India‘s aspirations for modernity and openness.

The government’s emphasis on the name “Bharat” highlights the need for a delicate balance between celebrating cultural heritage and projecting a forward-looking image. While the nationalist sentiment resonates with some, it is crucial not to alienate sections of society or perpetuate exclusionary narratives.

Promoting Diverse Narratives

India‘s strength lies in its diversity. Instead of narrowing down the country’s identity to a single name, efforts should be focused on honoring the diverse cultural origins and linguistic traditions that contribute to India‘s vibrant tapestry. By fostering inclusive narratives, the government can lead the way in showcasing India‘s pluralistic ideals and countering divisive forces.

Conclusion: Navigating National Identity

The controversy surrounding the use of “Bharat” instead of “India” at the G-20 Summit dinner party reflects the complex challenge of defining a nation’s identity. While there may be political motivations behind this choice, it also sparks a much-needed dialogue on the role of identity in a rapidly changing world.

India‘s history, cultural heritage, and diverse traditions should all find representation in its national identity. Moving forward, it is critical to strike a balance between celebrating historical roots and embracing a progressive vision for the future. By doing so, India can navigate the intricacies of national identity and present itself as a global leader while staying true to its founding principles of unity in diversity.


"Bharat" vs "India": Debating Identity and Nationalism in Hindu Nationalist Discourse
<< photo by Ryoji Iwata >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

You might want to read !


Green Rache

Hi, I'm Rachel Green, a journalist who has worked in both print and broadcast media. I'm a firm believer in the power of journalism to change lives, and I strive to make a positive impact through my reporting.

Similar Posts