Issue Brief on “‘India’, ‘Bharat’ or ‘Hindustan’: Old Tactics, But New Agendas of BJP’s Majoritarian Politics”

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“India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States,” stipulates the Indian constitution depicting the arduous debates that led Parliament to adopt both names.[1] The recent political adventure of the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) regime to present India with the name ‘Bharat’ at G20 summit dinner invitation cards has spurred a fractious debate about whether the country is going to officially change its name to only ‘Bharat’. Analysts around the world are speculating on the possible rationale behind this semantics. Opposition parties are calling it an unnecessary ‘electoral stunt’ of the BJP. But why the BJP looks concerned about using ‘Bharat’ instead of India? What is the political wisdom behind it? Whether it is wise at all? Or is it the BJP’s only card left for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections for majoritarian politics?

The issue raised eyebrows among historians and India experts when for the dinner, the invitation cards stated it as from, ‘President of Bharat’ instead of ‘President of India’.[2] Shashi Tharoor, a Congress MP said, “While there is no constitutional objection to calling India “Bharat,” which is one of the country’s two official names, I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with “India,” which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries.”[3] Countries are often seen changing their names like Turkey shifted to ‘Turkiye’; the Czech Republic streamlined its name to Czechia; Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia; Ceylon to Sri Lanka; Burma to Myanmar, and their governments always have some political communication running back in their mind.

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