The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, opened the G20 Summit, this Saturday (9), sitting behind a poster with the name that aroused the interest of many.
The poster did not say “India”, the name by which their country is usually known internationally. Instead, it said “Bharat,” the country’s Sanskrit or Hindi title, and fueled speculation that the government plans to eliminate the country’s English designation altogether.
“Prime Minister Modi uses ‘Bharat’ sign for G20 inaugural address,” read the headline in the Times of India, one of the country’s largest English-language outlets, moments later.
“Is it an indication of new beginnings?” asked Hindi channel ABP News.
Both India and Bharat are officially used names in the country of 1.4 billion people, which has more than 20 official languages. Bharat is also the Hindi word for India and is used interchangeably — both appear on Indian passports, for example.
The word was at the center of a controversy this week after invitations to the G20 dinner referred to India as “Bharat”, fueling a political dispute and public debate over what the country should be called, its history and colonial legacy. British.
The use on invitations marked a notable change in the naming convention used by the country on the international stage promoted by Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Indian officials attending the G20 event also wear badges that say: “Bharat Officer.”
This G20 Summit is the first to be held in India, in a sign that Modi intends to increase New Delhi’s global influence after almost a decade in power. During this time, the country positioned itself as a leader with the intention of freeing itself from its colonial past — emphasizing the need to free itself from “the slavery mentality”.
Britain ruled India for around 200 years, until it gained independence in 1947. Modi has been keen to position himself as a disruptor of India’s colonial legacy, taking steps to move the country away from what he called “vestiges of British rule”.
These efforts also include changing the names of roads and buildings that honor India’s Muslim identity — as well as its ancient Islamic leaders, who left an indelible legacy on the subcontinent — to instead celebrate the country’s Hindu majority.
Some of its supporters say the name by which the country is best known globally is a holdover from the colonial era.
An ‘abuse’ or an ‘incalculable mark’?
The name India was created by Western civilizations from a derivation of the Sanskrit word for the Indus River — Sindhu — and was later adapted by the British Empire.
“The word ‘India’ is an abuse given to us by the British, while the word ‘Bharat’ is a symbol of our culture,” Harnath Singh Yadav, a BJP politician, told Indian news agency ANI.
A former Indian cricket star, Virender Sehwag, has also asked sports officials to wear Bharat on players’ shirts during the Men’s Cricket World Cup, which will be held in India this year.
But the use of “Bharat” in the G20 invitations raised suspicions among opposition leaders.
“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 over centuries,” Shashi Tharoor, a former diplomat and prominent lawmaker from the main opposition party, wrote on social media earlier this week.
In July, the leaders of 26 Indian opposition parties formed an alliance — known as INDIA (or the Inclusive Alliance for Indian National Development) — in an attempt to oust Modi in the next general election.
Some opposition politicians said the government’s use of Bharat was a response to the formation of the INDIA alliance.
“How can the BJP bring down ‘INDIA’? The country does not belong to any political party; belongs to [todos] Indians,” Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Raghav Chadha, a member of the alliance, said on social media.
“Our national identity is not the personal property of the BJP, which can be changed by whims and fancies.”
In an interview with ANI, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that India “is Bharat”.
“It’s there in the Constitution. I would like to invite everyone to read it,” he said. “When you say Bharat”, it evokes a “sense, a meaning and a connotation”.
See also: Lula wants to discuss inequality and the environment during G20
Source: CNN Brasil
Bruce Belcher is a seasoned author with over 5 years of experience in world news. He writes for online news websites and provides in-depth analysis on the world stock market. Bruce is known for his insightful perspectives and commitment to keeping the public informed.