The term India, which has Western antecedents and was imposed by the British, has been a point of contention among members of his Hindu nationalist governing party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
After a state-issued invitation to the G20 meeting referred to India as Bharat, rumors began circulating in India that the country’s English name would soon be retired from official usage.
This might be the most significant step in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration’s efforts to erase the urban landscape, political institutions, and historical textbook references to Britain’s colonial era reign over India.
Even Modi uses one of India’s two constitutionally recognized names—Bharat, which is rooted in Sanskrit’s ancient Hindu texts.
While the government has been mum on the specifics of its legislative agenda for the special session of parliament scheduled for later this month, it’s been reported that BJP lawmakers will put forward a special resolution to give precedence to the name Bharat.
The plan’s rumored implementation was welcomed with both skepticism and ardent approval.
On X, Congress opposition leader Shashi Tharoor commented that he hopes the administration would not be so naive as to dispense with ‘India entirely.’
In light of the potential name change, former Test cricketer Virender Sehwag has encouraged the Indian cricket board to adopt Bharat on team clothing. He argued that it was time to return to using the ancient term “Bharat,” saying that “India” was a name provided by the British.
Indian administrations of varying ideologies have renamed streets and towns for decades to erase the legacy of colonial rule by the British. This has accelerated under Modi’s administration, who has often called on India to shed its “colonial attitude” publicly.
His government replaced buildings from the colonial period by updating the British-designed legislative area in New Delhi.
Modi’s administration has also erased Islamic place names placed during the Mughal dynasty that preceded British authority further to highlight the dominance of India’s predominant Hindu faith.