In a recent confluence of events, scarcely a fortnight prior to the convened parliamentary session, shrouded in an air of secrecy regarding its underlying agenda, a political imbroglio has arisen. The contention revolves around the nomenclature of the nation, ignited when the government dispatched an invitation to the G20 Summit, addressed not to the “President of India,” but rather to the “President of Bharat.”
As the opposition vociferously decried the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an official government document chronicling the Prime Minister’s sojourn to Indonesia for the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and the 18th East Asia Summit provocatively referred to Narendra Modi as the “Prime Minister of Bharat.” This particular iteration was disseminated via the social media account of BJP spokesperson, Sambit Patra, who, too, unabashedly reiterated “Prime Minister of Bharat.”
With a resolute dismissal of these speculations, particularly propagated by elements within the opposition, regarding the clandestine motive of the parliamentary session being the transformation of the nation’s nomenclature from India to Bharat, the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Arunag Thakur, vehemently asserted, “I perceive these to be unfounded rumors. My unequivocal statement is that anyone who takes exception to the use of the term ‘Bharat’ reveals a certain disposition.”
Expanding upon the subject of the President’s dinner invitation, Minister Thakur further elucidated, stating, “The President is rightfully referred to as ‘Bharat ke Rashtrapati,’ and hence, she inscribed ‘President of Bharat.’ Why should this be met with opprobrium?”
“As a minister within the Bharat Sarkar, this is hardly groundbreaking. The G20-2023 branding, inclusive of both ‘Bharat’ and ‘India,’ has been established for the past year. Hence, what is the rationale for objections against the utilization of ‘Bharat’? This dissent is illustrative of their mindset; even on foreign shores, they cast aspersions on ‘Bharat.’ Within the country’s borders, they contest the very name of ‘Bharat,'” he declared.
These remarks by Minister Thakur come in the wake of the INDIA alliance, an opposition consortium, highlighting the dinner invitation bearing the title “President of Bharat” and vehemently censuring the BJP.
The embryonic Article 1 of the Constitution, which unambiguously proclaims “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States,” was officially ratified by the Constituent Assembly on September 18, 1949. The impending five-day parliamentary special session, scheduled to commence on precisely the same date, has ignited further conjecture, especially amongst opposition factions.
Earlier on the same day, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan utilized social media as a platform to disseminate the aforementioned dinner invitation under the rubric of the “President of Bharat.”
Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP luminary and Chief Minister of Assam, expressed his sentiment via a social media post that ardently declared, “Republic of Bharat – jubilant and proud of our civilization’s bold stride towards the era of enlightenment.” Speaking before a contingent of reporters, he questioned the necessity of an English moniker for the nation.
“It is incontrovertibly stipulated within our Constitution: ‘India, that is Bharat.’ The appellation ‘Bharat’ has endured the test of millennia. There exists no exigency for an alternative nomenclature; our nation was Bharat, is Bharat, and shall remain Bharat,” Sarma professed.
Prime Minister Modi has recurrently underscored India’s illustrious civilizational legacy, highlighting the urgency of disentangling itself from colonial vestiges and rekindling a sense of rootedness and heritage.
During his Independence Day address in the preceding year, the Prime Minister expounded upon the concept of the “Panch Pran,” emphasizing the imperative of emancipating minds from colonial imprints and exuding pride in India’s cultural inheritance.
“In no facet of our existence, not even the deepest recesses of our psyche or our customs, should traces of subjugation persist. This legacy of centuries has held us in chains, compelling the suppression of our sentiments and breeding distorted cognitive paradigms within us. We must liberate ourselves from this subjugated mindset, palpable in myriad aspects of our lives,” he exhorted the nation.
The Modi administration has been signaling a concerted effort to sever ties with India’s colonial past, exemplified by the recent introduction of legislative bills aimed at overhauling criminal laws. These legislative proposals seek to supplant the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Indian Evidence Act with the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, respectively.
Furthermore, the government has undertaken a series of symbolic changes, renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path, unveiling a new Naval ensign distinct from colonial vestiges, and rechristening landmarks in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, among other actions. These initiatives align with the broader mission of shedding India’s colonial past, affording it the opportunity to chart a fresh narrative firmly grounded in its own heritage.