The India vs. Bharat Debate

The topic of whether India should be referred to as “India” or “Bharat” is being talked about again. This discussion has started because of a change in the invitations for the G-20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9. Instead of using the usual “President of India,” the new invitations say “President of Bharat.” This change has made people think and talk more about the name of our country and its historical meaning.

Constitutional Perspective: India and Bharat

From the constitutional point of view, the Indian Constitution already allows for both “India” and “Bharat” to be used. The Indian Constitution unites us with its very first words: “We the People of India, or Bharat.” Here, the two terms are interchangeable – India and Bharat – demonstrating that this union is one and the same. The promise of Article 1 is clear: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” Actually, some government organizations, like the Indian Railways, already use Hindi versions that include “Bharatiya.”

Historical Roots

The name “Bharat” is steeped in centuries of history and culture. It can be traced back to the ancient Puranas and the epic Mahabharata, where “Bharata” refers to the land stretching from the southern sea to the northern Himalayas. At its core, Bharata symbolizes a religious and cultural unity, rather than just a political or geographical one; an entity that pays homage to its legendary founder Bharata – ancestor of all people of this subcontinent. The name India, on the other hand, drew its origin from the Indus River that flows through parts of the northwestern region.

On the other hand, the name India is derived from the word Indus, which is the name of a river that flows through the northwestern part of the subcontinent. The ancient Greeks were the first to put a name to the far-off land of Indus, dubbing it “Indoi,” meaning “people of Indus.” After them, it was the Persians and Arabs who bestowed the title of “Hind” or “Hustan” upon this mysterious place. Eventually, when the Europeans arrived, they christened it with their own version of these names: India. And so, during British colonial rule, India became officially recognized as its name.

The debate over the country’s name is not new and dates back to the framing of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly in 1949.The Assembly was divided over the name “India”; some felt it was an uncomfortable reminder of the country’s colonial history, while others felt that “Bharat” should be given precedence in all official documents. There were arguments that “Bharat” should be placed above “India” since the latter was just a translation of the former in English. Examples of other countries, like Ireland, changing their names upon achieving independence were also cited

Resistance to Name Change

Although people are discussing the name change, there are some who don’t want to change it. In 2016, the Indian government disagreed with changing the name. They said that the topic had already been talked about a lot when the Constitution was being created. The Supreme Court also rejected requests to rename India as Bharat, stating that both names are mentioned in the Constitution.

Essence of the Debate

The India vs. Bharat debate is not just about names. It is a bigger discussion about who we are, our history, and our culture. The Constitution includes both names, but the ongoing conversation shows that we are always trying to understand and show what India really means.