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Controversy over 'Bharat' Instead of India on G20 invitation card

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 14-03-2024
Controversy over 'Bharat' Instead of India on G20 invitation card Summit and Conference 10 min read

Controversy has erupted in the country after the use of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the normally used ‘President of India’,on the official G20 Summit invitation issued by the government of india. "Bharat" has also been used in a G20 booklet meant for foreign delegates titled - "Bharat, The Mother Of Democracy". 

India as the current host of the G20 is organising the 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit ,scheduled to be held on 9-10th September 2023 in New Delhi. The President, being the Head of the State,  formally issues an invitation on behalf of the government of India to the Head of State /Government of member countries to come to India and participate in the summit meeting.


What is the Controversy?

The use of the word “Bharat '' instead of India has been criticised by the opposition parties who have recently formed I.N.D.I.A (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) bloc to counter the ruling National Democratic Alliance(NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They allege that because their alliance name is I.N.D.I.A, the government has deliberately used the word Bharat on official invitations.

Also the government move to summon a special session of the Parliament in September 2023, have also fuelled the speculation that the government intends to change the name of the country to India .

The constitution  officially declares the name of the country as  India that is Bharat. 

How has the name Bharat evolved?

“Bharat,” “Bharatvarsha” and “Bharata” are the earliest recorded names and their roots are traced to Mahabharata and Puranic literature.

  • According to Puranas, Bharata lies between the “sea in the south and the abode of the snow in the north”.
  • The story of the name of Bharatvarsh is directly related to Bharat, the son of Rishabhdev. According to the Hindu text, Skanda Purana (Chapter-37) "Rishabhdev was the son of Nabhiraj, Rishabh's son was Bharata.
  • Here, many other Puranas also say that Nabhiraj's son was Lord Rishabhdev and his son was Bharata, he was a Chakravarti and his empire spread in all directions and our country was named Bharatvarsha after his name.
  • Bharat is said to be the founder of the Bharata Dynasty and the ancestor of the Pandavas and Kauravas. This was the period when Bharat was also called by many other names like Bharatvarsh, Jambudweep, Bharatkhand, Aryavarta, Hindustan, Hind, Al-Hind, Gyagar, Fagyul, Tianzhu, Hodu.

Etymology of name India

The origin of the word India lies in the word “Sindhu”, referring to the mighty River Indus, which originates in the Himalayas and is the source of the three great northern river systems – Sindhu, Ganga, and Brahmaputra.

Sindhu is the Sanskrit name of the river and its earliest mentions are in the Rig-Veda, one of the oldest sacred books of Hinduism which dates back to 1700-1100 BC.

Contribution of Persia (modern Iran)

  • As knowledge about ancient India spread, Persians found it difficult to pronounce the “S” of Sindhu. They pronounced it as “H” and hence the name Hindu was born. It came to represent not only the river but also the land and its people who lived across the Indus.
  • An inscription, dated to 528 BC, found in Iran’s Persepolis, which was the capital of the Persian or Achaemenid empire of Darius 1, mentions, “Hi(n)du” as one of his many domains. 
  • From the first century, the Persian suffix, ‘stan’ was applied and the name ‘Hindustan’ was formed.

Contribution of the Greeks 

  • Around the same time, from Persia, the word “Hindu” spread to Greece, where “H” is silent. That gave birth to the root “Ind”. The Greeks transliterated Hind as Indus.
  • Both the names Bharat and India can be traced back to ancient times.
  • In this form, it became part of Latin. 
  • India, as we now call it, can be traced back to Latin and its influence on the English language.

Contribution of the Europeans 

  • In Old English, it is said to have appeared in King Alfred’s translation of Orosius. However, under the influence of the French language, ‘India’ was replaced by ‘Ynde’ or ‘Inde’.
  • The name India resurfaced in the late phase of Early Modern English, the latter half of the 15th Century to 1650 AD largely because of the growing influence of Latin, Spanish or Portuguese. “India” finds a mention in the first edition of the King James Bible and the works of renowned playwright William Shakespeare.
  • By the 16th Century, most South Asians described their homeland as Hindustan. It referred to territories of the Mughals, which comprised much of South Asia, in the mid to late 18th century. But from the late 18th century, British maps started using the term India and it stayed on.

Constitution of India

January 26, 1950, marked the adoption of the Indian Constitution. It referred to the newly independent republic as  “India that is Bharat”. 

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