This week, India sent invitations to G20 leaders which described Droupadi Murmu as “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India.” Does this mean that India has changed its name?
The decision was cheered by many Hindu nationalist leaders from the Prime Minister’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. They said the change represented a rejection of the country’s colonial legacy, according to a report by The New York Times.
Bharat, a Sanskrit word, is the official name of the nation in Hindi, but in all communication in other languages the nomenclature is “India”, and, in fact, is in the country’s Constitution “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.
There are still no comments from Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting that he would change the official name to Bharat, but some Indian news media reported that his party might propose the change in the federal Parliament.
Leaders from Modi’s party have changed other place names, saying that their goal is to erase remnants of the country’s colonial pasts. Some critics say that the places of the names changed sounded Muslim, a group that have been under attack under Modi’s rule.
Opposition political leaders formed an alliance named INDIA -the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance- as opposition to Modi’s acting.
“You will neither be able to take India from us, nor Bharat,” said Manoj Jha, member of the alliance.