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Should India be renamed to Bharat

What's in a name, celebrated playwright William Shakespeare had his most famous heroine Juliet say in his Romeo and Juliet play, That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.

But most people wouldn't agree with Shakespeare in their daily lives. That the name affects the personality of an individual is a common belief and India perhaps believes in belief the most. As for an individual so is for the nation.

Article 1[1] of the Constitution which reads that “India that is Bharat..” gave to us the two highly debated upon names. The article faced heated debates in the Constituent assembly and was subjected to criticism by many senior leaders.

70 years later, as the world is going through discouragement due to pandemic COVID-19, PM Modi called in for a new Aatamnirbhar Bharat. This call not only awakens the deep values of our country and its rich past as a self reliant nation which was a strong asset to the world but also knocks up the debate on the very name which is allegedly a remain of the Britishers and does not suit our identity.

In this context, recently a PIL was filed in Hon'ble Supreme Court asking to change the classification of our Nation from India to Bharat. This isn't the first and segregated occurrence when such a PIL has been filed rather, a lot more occasions in sublime past indistinguishable PILs have been submitted under the steady gaze of the Humble peak Court.

First and foremost we must understand the concept of 'renaming'. Many countries and cities have changed their names in recent history as a reflection of the cultural and traditional values their names hold. This is also true for Indian cities which have constantly changed their names to do away with the British legacy and came up with names more suited to the present(Eg. Bombay).
But, India already is named Bharat too, so there isn't a question of renaming it. Actually the official name is Bharat in most of the Indian languages and except when it comes to English use we can use both the official names interchangeably.

Prime Minister Modi's speech addressing the 74th session of UN General Assembly referred to our nation as BHARAT. The passports of Indians have two titles THE REPUBLIC OF India in English and BHARAT GANRAJYA in Hindi. These two instances clearly send out the notion that we in fact are called Bharat. Thus, we can safely reply to the question of renaming the nation to Bharat in negative.
What is the actual debate?

Now, the actual question being that; Do we want to amend Article 1 and switch to BHARAT as the only name? There are two ways to approach this situation. First that we want to do away with the name India thus have Bharat as the only name and the second that we want BHARAT to be our only identity and thus do not want India.

Is There A Problem With India?
The general notion is that the name India became popular after the 17th century through English language and hence is believed to be given to us by the Britishers. It appears that even after 70 years of freedom we are still using the name given to us by autonomy.

However to the contrary belief, Herodotus texts suggest that India is so named (as Hind or India or Indiana or Indica) in Arabic, Persian Roman and Greek from 450 B.C onwards. Eratostenes's map of the World (from 129 B.C.) also labels the Indian landmass as 'Ariana India'.[2] The great travelers like Vasco da gama and Megasthenes described the QUARDILATERAL SHAPE of our nation as India and since we had East India Company named so during the time of Akbar, it can be safely concluded that India isn't just a colonial name.

Arguing the fact that India is derived from the word Indus – a river which used to flow through Indian subcontinent and whose major portion now flows through Pakistan and other countries makes it geographically incorrect to have the name still in place holds little well. Amazing is that the Bharatvarsha also included the present day of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, North-West Tibet, Nepal.

Thus, the argument is inconsistent because the names Indian Mainland as well as Bharat were both used for a subcontinent earlier (which gradually fragmented)and our country (present day India and Bharat) descends from the glory of Bharatvarsha as well as the Great Indus valley civilization.

By using the name India as one of the two names of our country, we also retain the legal right to use that name 'India' exclusively, although many other political entities like Pakistan, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand and many others may claim that name too, if we dump that name altogether. (Which no bharatiya would in good senses want!)

As a matter of fact, Indian constitution derives most of its articles from other constitutions and is largely a borrowed document yet every Bharatvasi has immense respect for this document. So if we apply the same logics as we are applying to the name, we might as well debate on doing away with the borrowed Constitution and probably later talk about the name which has sought its glory through a long past.

We own a legacy of thousands of years of history linked to the name India and have strategic and moral authority over the Ocean named after our country, the Indian Ocean, almost making it our own back-yard in the long run.

After 200 years of India being the official name of the land, it is slowly ceasing to be an exonym and is being absorbed into Indian languages. Also the name “India” is used by non-Anglophones quite easily thus proving its place.

As for Bharat, it is a name with a glorious past and finds mention in the Rig Veda's 18th hymn of seventh book. The book describes the battle of ten kings which was fought on river Ravi in Punjab and was won by the great king Sudasa of Bharata tribe of Trtsu Dynasty. Thus, the name 'Bharata' stuck on the mouth of people and ultimately named as 'Bharat Varsha' meaning the land of Bharata. The name also finds its mention in Vishnu puran[3], the Mahabharata and to go by the recent it was a widely used term during the Struggle for Independence.

The name Bharat finds its origin in Sanskrit bhr means “to bear/ to carry” i.e. “to be maintained” (of fire). It also means “One who is engaged in search of Knowledge”. Thus Bharat finds its roots in the old texts and base language. However, the name India finds its origin in Greek and comes from the river Indus.

Thus we can say that the names Bharat and India have different lines of descent and it cannot be argued which is older or more suited. While Bharat descends from puranas and sacred texts, India finds its origin in the oldest of the civilization.

India is a land of unity in diversity and home to almost all the religions and beliefs of the world. If we discard India and keep Bharat, it is quite possible that the Muslims and other communities will find themselves alienated because Bharat is nowhere close to their texts and is predominantly linked to Hinduism. Thus, the two names reflect the Indian principles and values in their own way.

Linguistically, India isn't just a Hindi speaking nation. Most of the southern states speak only English or their own regional language. Thus accepting Bharat as the only name might harm the unity of the nation and would take away the sense of belongingness from the masses.

As for the question of primary name and the language of Article 1; it is a misconception that by stating India that is Bharat we have let Colonials prevail over our motherland. India is in fact a glorified name of our motherland and does not owe any debt to the English colonizers.

In having both India and Bharat we have retained our glorious past and adapted with the new age civilization and globalization. I would reckon that there is glory in the usage of the name India, along with Bharat. The makers of the Constitution were wise enough to do the right thing. All attempts to discredit our glorious name 'India' are misguided and short-sighted.

We have respect for India as well as for Bharat as they are one and unified diversity. The Indian Soldier proudly martyrs with the last words “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

  1. Constitution of India,1950
  2. Authentic Antique Map of India and Southeast Asia: India Intra et Extra Gangem… | India map, Southeast asia, History
  3. Excerpt of Vishnu Purana ---- “This country is known as Bharatvarsha since the times the father entrusted the kingdom to the son Bharata and he himself went to the forest for ascetic practices”

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