Rajat Sharma


AKBThe debate is on over whether our country should be officially named ‘Bharat’ or the present name ‘India’ should remain. Our Constitution clearly says, “India, that is Bharat”. A presidential invitation to G20 delegates for the official dinner used the words “President of Bharat”. Earlier, the External Affairs Ministry had been using the words “Prime Minister of Bharat” in its visit protocol documents during Modi’s visit to South Africa, Greece and Indonesia. This has fuelled speculations whether the government is going to remove the word ‘India’ from the Constitution, and whether our country will, henceforth, have only one name “Bharat”. There has been no official statement from the government yet, but soon after the President’s invite for dinner reached the leaders, speculations became rife. Most of the ministers in Modi’s government went on social platform ‘X’ with remarks ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’. Opposition leaders reacted saying “BJP is rattled by the INDIA alliance and is trying to erase the word ‘India’ from the Constitution and all official documents”. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “Mr Modi can continue to distort history and divide India, that is Bharat, that is a Union of States. But we will not be deterred.” Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that Modi government has begun to dismantle the Constitution by trying to remove the word ‘India’. Chowdhury said, “if Modi hates relics of slavery, then he should first blow up the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block and South Block with cannons, because they were built by the British”. NCP chief Sharad Pawar, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, DMK supremo M K Stalin, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav alleged that Modi appears to be afraid of the INDIA alliance and he has embarked on changing the name of the country. Their allegations were countered by BJP president J P Nadda who said, “on one hand, Congress takes out Bharat Jodo Yatra, and on the other hand, it objects to the use of the words ‘President of Bharat’.. Why is the Congress hating the words ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’?” Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, the word ‘Bharat’ instils a feeling of pride at a time when the nation is passing through ‘Amrit Kaal’. The move was welcomed by film stars and players. Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, while ex-cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Virendra Sehwag welcomed the move. Sehwag went to the extent of demanding that Team India in the forthcoming ODI World Cup should be named Team Bharat. Let me explain how the controversy started. Two days ago, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said in Guwahati that our country has been Bharat since ages, and we should name our country as Bharat and not India. It is a fact that for the last 300 years, people across the world had been knowing our country as India. This was because the British had used the word ‘India’. It is also true that 300 years later, the word ‘Bharat’ resides in the heart of every Indian. Bharat is part of our centuries-old legacy. In Hindu homes, whenever a pooja or havan is conducted, the ‘shloka’ mentions ‘Jambudwipey Bharat Khandey’. Ancient scriptures like Vishnu Puran, Skanda Puran, Vayu Puran, Agni Puran, Brahmanda Puran and Markendeya Puran describe the land from Indian Ocean up to the Himalayan ranges as ‘Bharat’. How can anybody object to naming our country as ‘Bharat’? Secondly, this issue was raised by Rahul Gandhi in a different context. It was he who said, ‘Modi has divided the nation into two parts – one is India, and the other is Bharat’. Now, if Modi wants to merge both India and Bharat, then what’s the problem with the Congress? If the government initiates a move, Bharat will not be the first country to do so. The British rulers had named Sri Lanka as Ceylon. After independence, the neighbouring country renamed itself as Sri Lanka. Botswana in Africa was named as Bechuanaland. After independence, the government renamed itself as Botswana. The British rulers had named Jordan as Trans-Jordan, but after independence, it reverted to its old name Jordan. Our neighbouring country was named Burma by the British, but the military regime has named it as Myanmar. So, if Modi removes the word ‘India’ and used the word ‘Bharat’ as the official name of our country, it will be in accordance with our culture and tradition. Opposition parties are opposing only because they had named their alliance as INDIA a few weeks ago. They had then described it as a ‘masterstroke’ and had given the slogan “Jeetega INDIA”. But the licence for masterstroke does not lie with the opposition alone. Modi is an old hand in this game. The interesting part is that those who are speaking about “uprooting” Sanatan Dharma, are now opposing the naming of our country as ‘Bharat’. DMK supremo M K Stalin said, BJP had promised to “transform” India, but in the last nine years it has managed to only “transform the name”. The reality is that on the issue of ‘uprooting’ Sanatan Dharma, other opposition parties are unwilling to support the DMK.

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