India or Bharat? An invitation to the G-20 sparks controversy over the country's possible name change | International

India or Bharat? An invitation to the G 20 sparks controversy
Rate this post

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an event in Australia last May.STRINGER (VIA REUTERS)

The invitation to an official dinner within the framework of the G-20 summit in New Delhi has sparked a tense debate in India about the possibility of a change in the country's name. In the English version of the letter, the country's leader, Droupadi Murmu, defines herself as president of Bharat. The name breaks with the tradition according to which, in English, the country's highest authorities use the place name India, while Bharat is used in the Hindi language. Murmu is a politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with a Hindu nationalist ideology, whose leader is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She was elected to the position—ceremonial in nature—with her votes and those of other parties on the conservative spectrum.

The English version of the current Constitution refers to the country as India. An eventual formal change of the name would require a constitutional reform, which would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament. Eva Borreguero, professor of Political Science at the Complutense University specializing in South Asia, explains that the toponym was coined abroad, through an evolution of the local name of the Indus River, to define the territories beyond the watercourse. . “Hindu nationalists reject it because they consider it an external concept. And, instead, they embrace Bharat because it is the name for Hindu India in mythical texts.”

Secular concept versus the mythical past

“India is a historical and secular concept,” continues the expert. “It is how India has related to the world throughout history. It is a concept of dialogue. Bharat is a Hindu mythical concept, it reflects what India is called in ancient Sanskrit texts, but with it the secular dimension is lost and non-Hindus are excluded. Basically, Muslims or Christians,” says Borreguero.

The formation of the word India is ancient, but the prominence it acquired in the colonial period has fostered positions in the BJP and surrounding areas that suggest that it is a name stained by that period of subjection.

The BJP has not formally announced initiatives to carry out the change, but the letter from the G-20 – preceded and accompanied by statements from party leaders who believe that the name India must be removed – has sparked controversy. The episode coincides with the convening of a mysterious special session of Parliament, scheduled for September, whose agenda has not yet been specified.

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


The movement also coincides with the recent formation of a broad alliance of opposition parties led by Raúl Gandhi's Congress, which has precisely been baptized as INDIA, an acronym for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. This is a gesture by opponents who are trying to prevent Modi and his party from monopolizing national pride. Several opposition representatives have come out to criticize the invitation letter and reject the prospect of a name change.

“We'll see what happens. Of course, this is an old aspiration of Hindu nationalism. There have already been changes in city names in recent times,” says Borreguero.

In addition to the name changes, Modi and the BJP also promote turning the page with respect to symbolic places, such as the headquarters of the national Parliament, a colonial building in New Delhi, recently replaced by another, large-scale one, with an inauguration with gestures and symbols closely linked to Hindu tradition—and an enormous role for the prime minister.

The controversy over the name of the country touches the deepest nerve of Indian politics, the pulse between the change of Hindu nationalist inspiration that Modi promotes with his party and the attachment to the values ​​of the Constitution that came into force in 1950, which defend the Congress party and its allies. The text consolidates the consensus that dominated then, and for decades, of an inclusive vision of a society with extraordinary internal diversity. The nationalism advocated by Modi closes ranks in the majority Hindu segment of society, above the old caste divisions. But, according to the opposition and many international experts, he marginalizes other communities, opening a gap that fuels tensions that are already serious now and could become explosive in the future.

While the country grows at a considerable economic pace and reaps successes such as the achievements of its space agency, multiple international study centers have recorded a sharp deterioration in democratic quality in recent years.

Follow all the international information on Facebook and Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Author Profile

Nathan Rivera
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathan Rivera, a dedicated journalist who has had the privilege of writing for the online newspaper Today90. My journey in the world of journalism has been a testament to the power of dedication, integrity, and passion.

My story began with a relentless thirst for knowledge and an innate curiosity about the events shaping our world. I graduated with honors in Investigative Journalism from a renowned university, laying the foundation for what would become a fulfilling career in the field.

What sets me apart is my unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth. I refuse to settle for superficial answers or preconceived narratives. Instead, I constantly challenge the status quo, delving deep into complex issues to reveal the reality beneath the surface. My dedication to investigative journalism has uncovered numerous scandals and shed light on issues others might prefer to ignore.

I am also a staunch advocate for press freedom. I have tirelessly fought to protect the rights of journalists and have faced significant challenges in my quest to inform the public truthfully and without constraints. My courage in defending these principles serves as an example to all who believe in the power of journalism to change the world.

Throughout my career, I have been honored with numerous awards and recognitions for my outstanding work in journalism. My investigations have changed policies, exposed corruption, and given a voice to those who had none. My commitment to truth and justice makes me a beacon of hope in a world where misinformation often prevails.

At Today90, I continue to be a driving force behind journalistic excellence. My tireless dedication to fair and accurate reporting is an invaluable asset to the editorial team. My biography is a living testament to the importance of journalism in our society and a reminder that a dedicated journalist can make a difference in the world.