Global Economy

published : 2023-09-06

India's Potential Move to Change Its Name to Ancient Sanskrit Term: A Fascinating Journey of Identity

Hindu nationalists push for the use of 'Bharat' as an alternative to 'India' in a bid for de-colonization

A breathtaking view of the iconic Taj Mahal at sunrise, taken with a Nikon D850.

In a surprising turn of events, the Indian government is considering replacing the nation's usual name with an older Sanskrit term, sparking speculation about plans for an official change. The use of 'Bharat' was recently seen on a dinner invitation sent to G20 summit attendees, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was referred to as 'Prime Minister of Bharat.' This move signals an unprecedented eagerness among Hindu nationalists to leave behind the term 'India,' which they claim was created during colonization.

Although 'India' and 'Bharat' are considered interchangeable terms within the country, 'India' is the much more widely used name both domestically and internationally. However, the use of 'Bharat' on official international invitations suggests that Modi's Hindu nationalist movement seeks to reshape the nation's identity, a decision perceived as vital for de-colonization by his supporters.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a crowd, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

The change has been met with mixed reactions. Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami hailed it as 'another blow to slavery mentality' and proudly proclaimed, 'Long live Mother Bharat!' On the other hand, some, like Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, questioned the nationalists' intentions and urged the retention of both monikers. Tharoor emphasized the significant brand value attached to the name 'India' over centuries and advocated for its continued use alongside 'Bharat,' which he believes is recognized globally.

The perplexing etymology of 'India' adds another layer to this debate. Dating back thousands of years, the region was called 'Indos' by the ancient Greeks, possibly derived from the term 'Hindi' and linked to the Indus River. The Indian Constitution refers to the nation as 'India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States,' recognizing both names officially.

A group of Hindu nationalists waving flags and chanting slogans in support of the 'Bharat' movement, taken with a Sony Alpha A7 III.

As India stands at this crossroad of identity, the world watches with intrigue. Will the nation choose to fully embrace its ancient roots and adopt the name 'Bharat'? Or will it opt for a harmonious coexistence of 'India' and 'Bharat,' honoring its rich history while embracing a more inclusive future? Only time will reveal the path India decides to tread.