India’s Modi government changed the country’s name on a G20 dinner invitation to Bharat.

India's Modi government changed the country's name on a G20 dinner invitation to Bharat.

India’s Modi government changed the country’s name on a G20 dinner invitation to Bharat. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has substituted a Sanskrit word for India in dinner invitations sent to guests attending this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, sparking speculation that the country’s name will be officially changed.

The invitation sent to G20 attendees on Tuesday incorrectly refers to Droupadi Murmu as “President of Bharat” rather than “President of India.”

India is hosting the annual G20 summit this weekend in New Delhi. Attendees will include US Vice President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.

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The nation of more than 1.4 billion people is officially known by two names, India and Bharat, but the former is most commonly used domestically and internationally. Hindustan is an alternative term for the nation frequently used in literature and popular culture.

According to many historians, Bharat is an ancient Sanskrit term that dates back to the earliest Hindu scriptures. India is also referred to as India in Hindi.

Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) officials support the name change. They argue that British colonialists created the name India, a “symbol of slavery.” The British governed India for approximately 200 years until 1947, when the country attained its independence.

The BJP has for many years endeavored to eliminate references to India’s Mughal and colonial past. The government has been accused of pursuing a nationalist agenda to transform India’s secular constitution into an ethnic Hindu state.

After protests from Modi’s party leaders, New Delhi’s renowned Aurangzeb Road, named after a Mughal king, was changed to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road in 2015.

Last year, the government also renamed a colonial-era avenue in the center of New Delhi used for ceremonial military parades.

The Modi administration claims that the moniker changes to reclaim India’s Hindu past.

On X, the chief elected official of Uttarakhand state, Pushkar Singh Dhami, stated, “Another blow to slavery mentality.” A BJP leader, Dhami, posted an invitation to the G20 supper.

However, India’s opposition parties criticized the government’s action.

“Rashtrapati Bhawan [President’s House] has sent out invitations for a G20 dinner on September 9th in the name of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the usual ‘President of India,'” Jairam Ramesh, the leader of the main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

“Now, Article 1 of the Constitution should read as follows: ‘Bharat, formerly India, shall be a union of states.'” “However, even this ‘Union of States’ is now under attack,” he continued.

Shashi Tharoor, a congressman from the Congress party, stated that Indians should continue to use both terms rather than relinquish their claim to a historically significant and internationally recognized name.

“While there is no constitutional impediment to calling India ‘Bharat,’ one of the country’s two official names, I hope the government will not be so foolish as to abandon ‘India,’ which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries,” he wrote on X.

President of the BJP, Jagat Prakash Nadda, criticized the Congress party.

He posted on X, “Why does the Congress have such strong objections to every issue about the honor and pride of the nation?” Congress does not regard the nation, the Constitution, or the constitutional institutions.

Disputes over “India” versus “Bharat” have intensified since July, when opposition parties announced a new alliance – the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA – to depose Modi and defeat his party in the 2024 national elections.

Since then, some Modi party officials have demanded that the country be referred to as Bharat rather than India.

Many Indian media agencies reported on Tuesday, citing sources, that the government may introduce a resolution to this effect during a special session of parliament this month. However, the government still needs to disclose the agenda for the September 18-22 session.

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