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Debating ‘Bharat’ vs. ‘India’ in Official Invitations

In a recent development that stirred controversy and debate, President Draupadi Murmu’s invitations for an official banquet at the G20 Summit in New Delhi replaced the term “India” with “Bharat.” This seemingly subtle linguistic shift sparked speculation and heated discussions, particularly among political circles, with some opposition leaders suggesting that it could signal a significant change in the country’s name. This article delves into the nuances of this linguistic transition, its political implications, and the broader context of ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ in the national discourse.

The Change in Nomenclature

Bharat vs India

Traditionally, official invitations from the President of India (or the Republic of India) have borne the title “President of the Republic of India.” However, the use of “Bharat” in place of “India” raised eyebrows and prompted various interpretations, primarily within the Opposition alliance. Critics argued that this alteration in English language communication might be a tactic to distance the alliance from the country’s name or, even more significantly, a precursor to a name change for the nation.

Political Reactions and Interpretations

While opposition parties voiced concerns, the Congress party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of indulging in divisive politics. Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh emphasized that the objective of the INDIA (Bring Harmony, Amity, Reconciliation And Trust) alliance was to achieve harmony in Bharat, signifying unity and inclusivity. In contrast, Congress Deputy Leader Gaurav Gogoi emphasized that both “India” and “Bharat” were sources of pride, highlighting their presence in acronyms like ISRO, IITs, IIMs, and IPS. He criticized the BJP’s response as driven by fear of the INDIA alliance.

On the other hand, BJP leaders celebrated the change in nomenclature. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed his happiness and pride in the transition, suggesting a new identity for the nation as the “Republic of Bharat.” Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan lauded the move, emphasizing that “Bharat” was an integral part of the country’s identity and culture, highlighting its importance in the post-colonial era.

Government’s Clarification

Amidst the debate, government sources clarified that there were no plans for formal action in the upcoming session of Parliament to change the country’s name. They cited the Indian Constitution, which explicitly states, “India, that is Bharat, is a Union of States.” This clarification aimed to dispel any rumors about a name change.

A senior Union Minister explained that the use of “Bharat” was intended to break away from the reductionist exercise of identifying the nation solely with the INDIA alliance. It was seen as a decolonizing move to emphasize the cultural and historical significance of “Bharat.”

Calls for Formal Adoption of ‘Bharat’

Despite the government’s clarification, some voices within the BJP, like MP Harnath Singh Yadav, expressed a desire for the formal adoption of “Bharat” as the sole name for the country, eliminating any reference to “India.” Yadav argued that “India” was a colonial label, while “Bharat” symbolized the nation’s rich culture. He called for a constitutional change to reflect this preference.


The debate over using “Bharat” instead of “India” in official invitations highlights the complexities of identity, culture, and politics in India. While it has sparked passionate discussions and differing viewpoints, the government’s stance remains firm on retaining both names in the constitutional framework. The linguistic shift serves as a reminder of the ongoing dialogue surrounding India’s multifaceted identity, emphasizing the need for unity and inclusivity in the diverse nation of Bharat.

Source: The Hindu

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