HomeWorldBharat G20 invitation fuels rumors India may change name

Bharat G20 invitation fuels rumors India may change name

Bharat G20 invitation fuels rumors India may change name

World leaders attending summit in New Delhi at weekend asked to dinner with ‘president of Bharat

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India was buzzing with speculation over rumored plans to scrap official use of the country’s English name, after a state-issued invitation to the G20 summit referred to it as Bharat.

The government of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been working to remove lingering symbols of British rule from India’s urban landscape, political institutions and history books, but this could be the biggest move yet.

India hosts the G20 summit this weekend, and world leaders have received an invitation to a state dinner hosted by the “president of Bharat”.

Modi himself typically refers to India as Bharat, a word dating back to ancient Hindu scriptures written in Sanskrit, and one of two official names for the country under its constitution.

Members of his Hindu nationalist ruling party, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), have previously campaigned against using the name India, which has its roots in western antiquity and was imposed during the British conquest.

The government has called a special session of parliament for later in the month, but remains tight-lipped about its legislative agenda, but the broadcaster News18 said unnamed government sources had told it that BJP lawmakers would put forward a special resolution to give precedence to the name Bharat.

Rumors of the plan were met with a mix of opposition and enthusiastic support.

Shashi Tharoor, of the opposition Congress party, said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter: “I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’.”

“We should continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history, a name that is recognized around the world.”

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The former Test cricketer Virender Sehwag said he welcomed the prospect of a name change and urged India’s cricket board to begin using Bharat on team uniforms. He wrote: “India is a name given by the British (and) it has been long overdue to get our original name ’Bharat’ back.”

For decades, Indian governments of various stripes have sought to excise traces of the British colonial era by renaming roads and even entire cities. The process has intensified under the government led by Modi, who in public speeches has stressed the need for India to abandon traces of a “colonial mindset”.

His administration renovated the parliamentary precinct in the capital, New Delhi, which was originally designed by the British, to replace colonial era structures.

Last month, the government outlined plans for a sweeping overhaul of India’s pre-independence criminal code to remove references to the British monarchy and what the home minister, Amit Shah, described as “other signs of our slavery”.

Modi’s government has also removed Islamic place names imposed during the Mughal empire that preceded British rule, a move critics say is emblematic of a desire to assert the supremacy of India’s majority Hindu religion.

Why Dispute over ‘India’ versus ‘Bharat’ have gained ground

Disputes over ‘India’ versus ‘Bharat’ have gained ground since opposition parties in July announced a new alliance – called INDIA – to unseat Modi and defeat his party ahead of national elections in 2024.

The acronym stands for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.

Since then, some officials in Modi’s party have demanded that the country be called Bharat instead of India.

Shashi Tharoor, Congress leader tweets one by one, and write, While the subject is live, let’s recall that it was Jinnah who objected to the name ‘India’ since it implied that our country was the successor state to the BritishRaj and Pakistan a seceding state. As with CAA, the BJP govt keeps supporting Jinnah’s view!

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