Shortly before the commencement of a special parliamentary session, a political controversy has arisen regarding the government’s preference for the term “Bharat” over “India.” The dispute originated when an invitation to a G20 Summit dinner referred to the “President of Bharat” instead of the “President of India.” This decision has triggered criticism from the Opposition, with some speculating that the government might be considering changing the country’s name from India to Bharat.
Adding to the controversy, a government booklet concerning the Prime Minister’s participation in the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit also used the term “Prime Minister of Bharat” in reference to Narendra Modi. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra echoed this terminology in a tweet, leading the Opposition alliance to highlight and condemn the use of “Bharat.”
Nonetheless, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arunag Thakur dismissed these speculations as “rumors.” He argued that using the name Bharat does not imply a name change but is merely a matter of branding. Thakur further emphasized that the term Bharat is already utilized alongside India in G20 branding, and there is no reason for objection.
The roots of this controversy can be traced to the Constitution, specifically in Article 1, which declares that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” As the special parliamentary session coincides with the anniversary of the adoption of this article, some Opposition parties have raised concerns about a potential name alteration.
Prominent BJP leaders, including Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, have defended the use of Bharat, citing its historical and constitutional significance. They contend that the name Bharat has been in use for millennia, and there is no need for a new name for the country.
Prime Minister Modi himself has emphasized India’s rich cultural heritage and the importance of shedding its colonial legacy. In his Independence Day address last year, he called for the decolonization of minds and a renewed pride in India’s civilizational roots. The government has also taken steps to rename landmarks and introduce new bills to replace colonial-era laws.
While the controversy surrounding the term Bharat continues to generate varying opinions, it reflects a broader debate on national identity and the historical legacy of the country. As Parliament prepares to convene for its special session, it remains to be seen whether this issue will be addressed or if it will persist as a point of contention in the political discourse.