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India to Bharat: A Possible Name Change for a Nation



The Story of India’s Name

The name ‘India’ has a rich history and is deeply rooted in ancient texts and geography. The name of India is a corruption of the word ‘Sindhu’. Neighbouring Arabs and Iranians uttered ‘s’ as ‘h’ and called this land ‘Hindu’. Greeks pronounced this name as ‘Indus’. Sindhu is the name of the Indus River, mentioned in the Rig- Veda, one of the oldest extant Indo-European texts.

The English term is from Greek Ἰνδία (Indía), via Latin India. Iindía in Byzantine ethnography denotes the region beyond the Indus ( Ἰνδός) River. The name India was known in Old English and was used in King Alfred’s translation of Orosius. The name was, under French influence, replaced by Ynde or Inde. It went into Early Modern English. The name India then came back to English usage from the 17th century onwards.


The Dual Identity: India and Bharat

In Indian languages, the country is also called Bharat, Bharata, and Hindustan. The roots of “Bharat”, “Bharata”, or “Bharatvarsha” are traced back to Puranic literature, and to the epic Mahabharata. The Puranas describe Bharata as the land between the “sea in the south and the abode of snow in the north”. Bharata is also the name of the ancient king of legend who was the ancestor of the Rig Vedic tribe of the Bharatas, and by extension, the progenitor of all peoples of the subcontinent.

The nation of more than 1.4 billion people is officially known by two names, India and Bharat. In English, it’s called India, while in Indian languages it’s also called Bharat. Article 1 of the Constitution uses these two names interchangeably: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.

A Possible Name Change?

Recently, there has been speculation about an official change in the name of the country from India to Bharat. This speculation was sparked when Indian President Droupadi Murmu referred to herself as “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India” in a dinner invitation sent to G20 attendees.

While there has been no confirmation that such a move is in progress, members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and his ruling BJP have suggested that the name Bharat should take primacy over India. They argue that the name India was introduced by British colonials and is a “symbol of slavery”.

Changing India’s name to only Bharat would require an amendment to the constitution which would need to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.


Conclusion

The name India is a complex and contested one. There are strong arguments on both sides of the issue of whether or not to change the name of the country. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to rename India is a political one that will be made by the Indian people.




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