One Word in a Dinner Invite Gets Scrutinized

Does a switch from India to Bharat loom?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2023 1:40 PM CDT
A Dinner Invite Raises Questions About India's Name
The Twitter page of India's opposition Congress party leader Shashi Tharoor shows an invitation from the President of India reading as President of Bharat, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

The "President of Bharat" invited guests to a Saturday dinner for world leaders during the G20 summit—and grabbed plenty of attention in doing so. Bharat is the Hindi or Sanskrit form of "India," and its use on the world stage has generated fresh speculation that the country could be ready to unload its English name. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government has been calling for colonial names to go for nearly a decade, though NBC News points out the name India predates the colonial era by at least two centuries; it arose from the Indus Valley in the country's northwest.

India's opposition parties aren't on board with what they fear could be a push to change India's official name, a move that would require a constitutional amendment be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament. "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 up over centuries," opposition lawmaker Shashi Tharoor wrote on X, per the AP.

The two names are enshrined in the country's constitution, but Reuters notes the invite bucks convention, in that invitations issued by Indian constitutional bodies use India on English invites and Bharat on ones written in Hindi; President Droupadi Murmu's invite was written in English. (More India stories.)

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