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India or Bharat?

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COMMENT BY PROF DR P.RAMASAMY,
FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG

                                   India or Bharat?

Is the ascension to power by Hindu nationalists embodied in the political party of BJP the natural progression in the direction of the name change of India to Bharat?

#TamilSchoolmychoice

Both the terms India and Bharat are in the Indian constitution, “India, that is Bharat, is the Union of States”.

The probable name change which needs to be constitutionally adopted could be the natural concomitant of the various actions by the Hindu nationalist government to put end to the last visible remnants of colonialism and imperialism.

Bharat, Hindustan and India were interchangeable terms used to describe the geographical land mass of the Indian sub-continent. However, the use of the term India could denote a limited territory.

While India was the official name of the present day geographical territory of India, the term is some thing that came to be accepted by the Persians and Europeans over the years.
Originally, it could have been associated with the Indus River. Essentially, it was a term imposed by others on the geographical territory.

On the contrary, terms such Bharat and Hindusthan harks to thousand of years, terms that were coined internally as result of the civilisational history of the present India.

Bharat might signify a territory, a the role of a king, harking back to the Vedic ages, thousand of years ago.

The term Hindusthan could have originated from the historical reference to the Sindhu river that flowed across the Indian sub-content. However, the letter sounding s” in the course of history could have been rendered “h”.

Originally, Hindusthan was meant to be a territory or land mass, it had nothing to do with the religion of Hinduism. Only much later, the word Hindu took on a religious character.

Whatever the sources of the origins of these the two terms, they were indigenous to the area. Their history is longer and more intrinsic to the development of the territory that came to be officially as India.

Whether the name change is going to take place or not is yet to determined. But the invitation extended by the President of Bharat to the heads of states recently to attend G20 Summit in New Delhi could be the first discernible shot in the direction.

The next parliamentary sitting scheduled soon might invariably touch on the question of name change. Whether India wants to stick to the externally imposed name or change to Bharat, the other constitutionally accepted term.

Of course, the recently formed the opposition national alliance has criticised the BJP government on the move of changing the name of India to Bharat.

A Congress Party leader went to the extent of saying that the government should not abandon the brand name, that is, India.
Some of have raised the question of whether such a name change would affect India’s relationship with other nations.

BJP has been taken to task for its engagement in nationalism and how the name change could affect the perceptions of religious minorities in the country.

Since Bharat might be equated with the nationalism of BJP, the majoritarian nationalism might affect the minorities adversely in terms of their rights.

Anyway, changing the name of a country is not something that his unique to India.

Turkey has changed its name to Türkiye to reflect the country’s rich civilisation history. Macedonia is called Northern Macedonia. Similarly, Holland has been termed as The Netherlands.

The possible name change from India to Bharat was preceeded by the past governments in changing names of places, streets and others from the old Mughal and colonial names to ones that were reflective of indigenous India.

The debate on the name change has just begun. Whether the government of India is preparing the grounds for this eventual move remains to be seen. The G20 Summit might have provided the testing ground for such a historic move.