BHARAT ; A HISTORIC TRANSITION IN INDIA’S IDENTITY
Updated: Nov 18
Written by : AMRUTHA R KARTHA, LOVELY PROFESSIONAL UNIVERSITY, 1ST YEAR , LLB
The proposal to change the name from "India" to "Bharat" has been a topic of discussion and debate in India for many years.
While the country's official name remains "India", the term "Bharat" is its name in Hindi, one of the country's 22 officially recognised languages.
The idea of changing the country's official name to "Bharat" has been debated in various contexts and it is important to understand the context and implications of such a change.
India is an incredibly linguistically diverse country, with hundreds of languages spoken across its states. While "India" is the internationally recognised name, "Bharat" is one of the names used within the country, particularly in Hindi-speaking regions.
A name change to "Bharat" could be seen as more inclusive of linguistic and cultural diversity within the nation.
Origin of the name Bharat
India got its name as Bharat due to its historical and cultural significance. The name Bharat was derived from ancient hindu scriptures. Bharat was an ancient king and a heroic figure mentioned in the epic Ramayana. The country was named after him to honour his qualities and contributions. This In Vishnu Puranam , it is described as the land that was called by the name Bharat Varsha.
Uttapam yat samudrasya himadraschiva dakshina
Varsha tad Bharatam nama Bharati yatra santatih
This means the country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharata and the descendants of the king Bharata lived there.
Origin of the name India
The name India is derived from the word Indus, the name of a river that flows through the northwestern part of the subcontinent.
The ancient Greeks called the people who lived beyond the Indus River Indoi, meaning "people of the Indus River.
Later, the Persians and Arabs also used the term Hind or Hindustan to refer to the land of the Indus.
From these sources, Europeans adopted the name India, which became the official name of the country after British colonial rule.
Point of Discussion
In G20 Summit , Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the name Bharat instead of India , and that stirred up the storm. But the Constitution already uses the names interchangeably in Article 1 , ‘ India that is Bharat shall be a Union of States.’This sparked a broader debate about the country's nomenclature and its historical meaning. The word India was primarily mentioned in the Greek records and then the British company came up with the name British East India Company , and under the Queen’s rule , we became British India. And finally after independence , we became India.
Various suggestions for the country’s name including Bharat , Hindustan , Hind , Bharatbhumi and Bharatvarsh was debated in the constituent assembly on September 18 , 1949. Hindustan was dropped from consideration. And then the debate aroused upon whether to use Bharat , India or a combination of both. Seth Govind Das and Hari Vishnu Kamat preferred Bharat to highlight the nation’s rich history and culture. Harigovind Pant made it clear that people from Northern India wanted Bharatvarsha and nothing else.
Dr BR Ambedkar said ‘ India has been known as India throughout all these past years ’
And argued that India was internationally recognised and should be retained as the official name. After a long and careful consideration the assembly resolved with Article 1 of the constitution , which states that ; ‘ India , that is Bharat , shall be a Union of States ’
This reflects the multilingual and diverse nature of the country.
Debate and controversy
The proposal to change the official name of 'India' to 'Bharat' has sparked debate and controversy. Some see the name change as a way of reaffirming India's cultural and historical identity, while others see it as a distraction from the more pressing issues facing the country . Critics also highlight concerns about the potential exclusion of non-Hindi speaking regions, as "Bharat" is primarily a term used in Hindi. Proponents of Bharat highlights the deep rooted cultural and historical identity of the country and see Bharat as a more nationalist and indigenous choice. Those in favour of India argue that it is a unifying name that transcends linguistic and regional boundaries , using India maintains the unity of the country with a multitude of language , culture and religions.
Public sentiment regarding the name change varies across regions and demographic groups.The urban population tends to lean on the name ‘ India ’ because of its link with modernity and progress whereas in rural areas and conservative segments they favour ‘ Bharat ’ due to its cultural and historical significance.
Practical considerations are also important. If such a name change were to occur, it would involve updating official documents, government insignia, international agreements, and more.This process could be resource-intensive and time-consuming.
• Educational curriculum Integration
Currently the NCERT panel has proposed changing the name ‘ India ’ to ‘ Bharat ’ in all textbooks. The change in school curriculum , textbooks and educational materials should be ensured so the future generations will be well versed of the updated name.
• International Diplomacy
To communicate the name change diplomatically to other countries and international organisations ensuring a smooth transition in global interactions and official communications.
• Update of currency and symbols
Currency notes , coins , and national symbols should be revised to feature the new name to ensure the consistency across all the elements of the Country.
• Administrative and legal changes
Taking up ‘ Bharat ’ as official name would require administrative changes , potentially involving alterations to letterheads , official documents and international treaties.
In summary, the idea of changing the name of India to "Bharat" is a complex and multifaceted issue, touching upon cultural, linguistic, and constitutional aspects.
Our erudite predecessors had already engaged in a lengthy argument about the nation's name at the constituent assembly. During that period, Dr. Ambedkar repeatedly reminded the House that since no member opposed the name Bharat, the argument over civilization was needless. Dr. Ambedkar expressed concern about these discussions on the national name. He was more concerned with the direction that the nation should go in terms of growth.
We are currently at a point in our development path where we aim to surpass the United States as the third-largest economy in the world by 2027. Engaging in these backwards-looking discussions about civilization would not be beneficial to our progress. "Bharat arthaat India" and "India, that is Bharat" are synonymous.
1. The Constitution of India , Article 1.
2. Is India changing to Bharat? Exploring the Debate Over India's Official Name https://blog.finology.in/Legal-news/india-name-change
3. The Name Game: Bharat vs India - Drishti IAS https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/the-name-game-bharat-vs-india'
4. India, that is Bharat…': One Country, Two Names - OpenEdition Journals https://journals.openedition.org/samaj/3717
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