Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had reservations about how the Partition of India unfolded. Despite the claims of the Muslim League, Pakistan ended up with less territory than initially anticipated. For Jinnah, there was a genuine concern that Pakistan might become subservient to India. His perspective on the term “India” was strongly influenced by these fears.
Historian John Keay notes that Jinnah always preferred the term “Pakistan,” signifying the “land of the pure.” He was adamant that the new country’s name should have no connection with “India.”
The term “Pakistan” had its origins in an acronym created by Choudhary Rehmat Ali in 1933, representing the five northern provinces of India: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan. By the 1940s, “Pakistan” had become widely accepted as the name for the new Islamic-majority state.
However, Jinnah did not want independent India to retain the name “India.” He believed that neither India nor Pakistan should adopt the British colonial title of “India.” He expressed his displeasure when he discovered that India had chosen to retain the name “India” after Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, acceded to Jawaharlal Nehru’s demand.
For Jinnah, the use of the term “India” implied subcontinental dominance, something Pakistan would never accept. He also believed that “India” originally referred to territory in the vicinity of the Indus River, primarily falling within Pakistan’s borders post-Partition.
Additionally, Jinnah wanted India to adopt the name “Hindustan” to emphasize the religious basis for the Partition and the new nation-states. He argued that “India” carried the baggage of being an “object of conquest,” a factor that might discourage Nehru from claiming it.
Despite Jinnah’s protests, the name “India” prevailed. The Constituent Assembly of India briefly discussed the possibility of using “Hindustan” as the country’s name in September 1949, but this idea was ultimately rejected. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution employs “India” and “Bharat” interchangeably in its English version, with “Bharat” used in the Hindi version.