Modi’s Government Replaces “India” with “Bharat” in G20 Summit Dinner Invitations
A Symbolic Name Change Reflecting Hindu Nationalist Party’s Objectives
The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has stirred controversy by replacing the name “India” with the Sanskrit word “Bharat” in the dinner invitations sent to attendees of the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit. This move is seen as a reflection of Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ongoing efforts to eliminate names that they perceive as having colonial origins. Instead of being referred to as the “President of India,” Indian President Droupadi Murmu is now referred to as the “President of Bharat” in the official invitation.
The nation of India, with its population of over 1.4 billion people, officially goes by two names: India and Bharat. However, the former is overwhelmingly more common both domestically and internationally. The name Bharat has roots in ancient Sanskrit texts and is also used to refer to India in the Hindi language. Proponents of this name change argue that “India” was introduced by British colonizers and is therefore seen as a symbol of slavery and a reminder of India‘s colonial past.
This renaming effort is not an isolated incident. Modi’s BJP has long sought to erase names associated with India‘s Mughal and colonial history. For example, in 2015, Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi, named after a Mughal emperor, was renamed Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road after protests from BJP leaders. Similarly, in recent years, the government has also renamed a colonial-era avenue in the heart of New Delhi used for ceremonial military parades. The renaming efforts are seen as a way for the BJP government to reclaim India‘s Hindu past and assert its cultural identity.
Philosophical and Historical Implications
While the renaming of India to Bharat may seem like a mere change in nomenclature, it carries significant philosophical and historical implications. The BJP’s argument that “India” represents a colonial legacy and slavery raises important questions about national identity and the influence of historical narratives on shaping cultural consciousness.
Renaming a nation goes beyond a simple modification of names on official documents. It alters the perception and understanding of a nation’s history and its place in the world. The use of “Bharat” invokes ancient Sanskrit texts and emphasizes India‘s Hindu heritage, linking the nation to its pre-colonial past. By doing so, the BJP seeks to establish a narrative that positions India as not only an ancient civilization with a rich cultural legacy but also as a nation that refused to succumb to colonial subjugation.
However, opposition parties in India have voiced concerns over discarding the name “India” entirely. Shashi Tharoor, an opposition lawmaker, cautioned against relinquishing a name that has gained international recognition and brand value over centuries. Tharoor contends that Indians should continue to use both terms to maintain a connection to their historical heritage while embracing the international recognition that the name “India” enjoys.
The Power of Branding and Historical Recognition
The dispute between “India” and “Bharat” has intensified in recent months due to the formation of a new political alliance called INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), consisting of opposition parties working to defeat Modi and his party in the 2024 national elections. This development has led some officials within the BJP to demand the exclusive use of “Bharat” instead of “India.”
The opposition’s concern over the brand value associated with the name “India” underscores the power of historical recognition and the impact it has on a nation’s standing in the global arena. The name “India” has become synonymous with a diverse and culturally rich country that has contributed significantly to various fields, including philosophy, mathematics, literature, and the arts. It is recognized and respected worldwide.
In an increasingly globalized world, the name of a nation carries immense weight. It shapes perceptions, influences tourism, attracts investment, and facilitates international relations. The decision to replace “India” with “Bharat” risks losing the widespread recognition and branding that the name “India” has accumulated over centuries.
Editorial and Advice
The decision to rename a country is a complex matter that should be undertaken with careful consideration of its historical implications, cultural significance, and international recognition. While it is essential to acknowledge and celebrate one’s heritage, it is equally important to strike a balance that preserves historical connections while maintaining a brand value that brings global recognition and advantages.
In the case of India, the BJP’s renaming efforts should be evaluated with these factors in mind. While it is understandable that the party seeks to reclaim India‘s Hindu past and distance the nation from its colonial history, completely discarding the name “India” could have unintended consequences. India‘s global reputation is built not only on its rich cultural heritage but also on its contributions to science, technology, business, and education. The international recognition of the name “India” has enabled the country to establish itself as a significant player in the global arena.
Therefore, it may be advisable for the Indian government to consider a nuanced approach that acknowledges both “India” and “Bharat.” Maintaining the use of both names would allow India to retain its historical connections while ensuring the continued global recognition and brand value associated with the name “India.” It would also represent a gesture of inclusivity, accommodating the sentiments of those who believe in the significance of both terms.
Ultimately, a nation’s name carries immense symbolic and practical weight. In the case of India, striking a balance between historical appreciation and international recognition is crucial. By engaging in open and inclusive discussions, the Indian government can provide a framework that ensures India‘s rich cultural heritage is celebrated while also embracing the advantages that come with being recognized as “India” on the global stage.
<< photo by aboodi vesakaran >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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