The controversy that emerged regarding the changing of the name of ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’ has raised numerous debates and discussions. Recently, the official G20 dinner invitations from the Indian President were sent under the name of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of ‘President of India.
A significant inclination of this major change of name of the country has been noticed by the members of the government and the ruling BJP party. It is much more likely that the resolution for changing India’s name to ‘Bharat’ will be addressed in the coming special session of the Parliament in September 2023.
Meaning and Origin of the term ‘Bharat’
The term ‘Bharat’ holds massive significance and integrity in India’s identity so far. It bears profound depth in the historical and mythological roots of the country.
The term ‘Bharat’ has been defined in different languages and texts bearing different meanings. There exist numerous stories and contexts behind the history of the name ‘Bharat’.
India was called Bharat for many years transcending all spheres of cultural, linguistic, and spiritual diversities among its people. The term Bharat is deeply rooted in the ancient scriptures and mythological era in the Sanskrit language.
In the Sanskrit language, the word Bharata is derived from ‘Bhru’ means to protect, Bharata means agni/fire, and ‘Bhrata’ means brother. Bhr means to bear or to carry. The term also means ‘one who is engaged in search of knowledge.
History of the name ‘Bharat’
The word ‘Bharat’ is quite ancient and fundamental since its emergence. The term ‘Bharata’ is derived from the Vedic tribes ‘Bharatas’ mentioned in Rigveda.
The term can also be traced back from its origin in Mahabharata the greatest epic of the Bharata Dynasty and other Puranas called Bharat Varsam/Varsh.
In different mythological texts and Puranas, the term is also used to demarcate environmental units and geographical lands situated between the Himalayas and the Southern seas. The Vishnu Purana depicts Bharat geographically and states it as the country that lies from the oceans in the north to the south of the mountains.
Another pretext, in Jainism, states that the country was named Bharat after the name of the brave king Bharata known as the protector of the land and its people. King Bharata the son of King Dushyant and Shakuntala, conquered the whole subcontinent. He united and ruled the entire Indian subcontinent, named Bharatavarsha after him which included the Himalayas and the seas.
The term also holds significance in the epic Ramayana where Bharata is the brother of Lord Rama. Furthermore, according to Roshen Dalal, ‘Bharatvarsha was considered a part of Jambudvipa, one of the seven islands or continents that comprise the world’.
Ideology Behind the Shift Bharat to India
The term ‘India’ originates from the river Sindhu (holy river in the northwest), Indus which marked the western boundary of British India flowing from the northern parts of the country.
The Greeks referred to the land and people living beyond the Indus River as Indoi which was later mentioned as ‘India’ in the 9th Century by the British.
The British referred to the Indian subcontinent as India during the colonial rule and their colonial administration used ‘India’ as the official name. ‘India’ was legally the first name for the whole subcontinent used commonly by all. The British parliament passed the ‘Government of India Act’ and named the country officially India.
The Constitution of the Country
The Indian Constitution refers to the country as ‘India that is Bharat’ officially recognizing both the terms.
While deliberating the name of the country, the framers of the constitution decided to keep both the terms Bharat and India and not sever them. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
The nation also adopted a dual-language approach in all diplomatic and official documents reflecting its multilingual diversity. The Preamble to the English version of the constitution states “We, the people of India…,” and then in Part One of the document it states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
In Hindi, the constitution replaces India with Bharat everywhere, except the part defining the country’s names, which says in Hindi, “Bharat, that is India, shall be a Union of States.”
However, there exists a language barrier as to which term has to be used Bharat or India. The term ‘Bharat’ was frequently used in the usage of Hindi and other Indian languages whereas ‘India’ was more recognized in International contexts and usage of the English language.
Cost of Renaming the Country
The financial aspect of renaming ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’ and how much will it cost the exchequer? Few models and theories suggest that the exercise of changing the name of the country is quite expensive.
The Outlook Business reported that according to Darren Oliver, the lawyer who devised a method to calculate the approximate cost of renaming a country estimates to Rs. 14,304 Crore. He came up with the formula in 2018 and for the African country, he estimated the cost of renaming at $60 million. He applied the same method for India using its revenue as a factor.
According to him usually rebranding exercises cost up to 10 percent of the company’s overall marketing budget. The sum is almost equal to what the Centre spends every month on its food security programme that feeds 80 crore Indians, the Outlook Business report stated.
Ideology and Confirmation
The decision if made, lets ‘Bharat’ take paramountcy over the name ‘India’. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh holding the ideological and organisational link with BJP, have shown a major bias towards the term ‘Bharat’ as the name of the country. Narender Modi’s government has been seen changing colonial names of cities with the idea of moving India past traditional slavery. However, this speculation has not been confirmed yet and it has certainly received mixed reception from the public including all kinds of support and criticism.
Ideologically, the intention behind this enormous change is to eliminate colonial bearings and accept the country’s heritage. The term ‘Bharat’ is derived from Bharatvarsha i.e. the land of the descendants of the Bharatas of the Vedic clans. The term has its origin in great mythological texts reflecting the geographical, cultural, and spiritual ties of the land and its people. Hence, the government intends to adapt and embrace the nation’s culture and history through its name.
Relevance of The Name Game
Both the names, Bharat and India have embarked on different journeys and have their own emotions attached to the nation’s name. The terms have co-existed for many years and have been used synonymously with each other.
The probable new name of the country is not new at all, the term Bharat a Sanskrit word can be traced way back to its ancient roots. ‘Bharat’ denotes culture, rich heritage, diverse languages, and region while ‘India’ transcends from connection to the Indus River and its usage for many years. ‘India’ has been internationally claimed and used all over the world marking its own prominent identity on the map. The global acceptance and standardization of ‘India’ is quite significant.
Changing of name is not a fresh practice to adopt, other countries and cities have changed their name earlier to portray their cultural and historical beliefs and traditions. For instance, Northern Rhodesia became Zambia and Southern Rhodesia became Zimbabwe for the same reason.
The current leaders of the nation and the majority of India’s population follow Hindu nationalism. Due to a number of reasons the term ‘India’ is considered to be replaced by ‘Bharat’, namely, it is deemed that the term India has been given to us by outsiders has a foreign origin, and lacks indigenousness, it reminds us of colonialism slavery. Hence, the new adaptation of ‘Bharat’.
Until now it was presumed that the terms ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ co-existed and are inseparable from each other. The chants of ‘Jai Bharat’, and ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ have been used numerous times to signify the country as a whole.
Names and titles are definitely of huge importance as they reflect the history, progress, and future aspects of the nation. The essence and meaning of the name of the nation are going to remain the same irrespective of what the government chooses. The current government, out of the two official names, intends to adopt one i.e. ‘Bharat’ to be the officially recognised name. However in the present situation, the name is not being changed as already India and Bharat are associate terms, the controversy is regarding the usage of only one term ‘Bharat’ replacing the other.
The dynamic proposition of renaming India as Bharat implicates multi-level changes and affects the identity of the nation as a whole. The name ‘Bharat’ carries a rich heritage with the integrity of its culture, diversity, mythology, spirituality, and literature. It signifies the journey and embarks on the evolution and growth of the country. India is very diverse and has a long distinctive history that stands very special to the country.