The government on Saturday continued its experiment with the name of the country, using “Bharat” in English instead of “India” at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in the place card for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in each session while his official website continued to use “India”.
Also, Modi used “India” in his social media posts in English through the day.
Despite the place card, leaders of the G20 countries referred to the host nation as “India” in their speeches and the G20’s New Delhi Declaration too stuck to that name, seemingly unmindful of Modi’s apparent preference for “Bharat”.
No country is obliged to use “Bharat” for “India” unless New Delhi takes a formal decision to drop the use of “India”.
The Opposition has this time round chosen to remain quiet over the use of “Bharat” in the Prime Minister’s place card. When news had broken earlier this week of Rashtrapati Bhavan sending out invitations in the name of the “President of Bharat” to G20 leaders and others, the Opposition had questioned the move, alleging efforts to drop “India” to spite the Opposition alliance INDIA.
Asked in an interview whether the G20 was going to reposition India as “Bharat”, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar had told ANI: “India, that is Bharat. It is there in the Constitution. I would invite everybody to read it.”
He was referring to Article 1 of the Constitution, which states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states.”
P. Wilson, Rajya Sabha MP from the DMK, advocate and former additional solicitor-general, said in a post on X (formerly Twitter): “The argument that India and Bharat can be used interchangeably is a superficial reading of Article 1 of the Constitution. It says
‘India, that is Bharat...’ not ‘India also known as Bharat’.”
He added: “As far as the President of India’s secretariat issuing invitation under the name ‘President of Bharat’ in an English invitation, the same is unconstitutional. Article 52 of the Constitution says there shall be a ‘President of India’. The name of the office cannot be changed as President of Bharat when typed in English unless this article is amended.”
Conversely, in Hindi, Article 1 reads: “Bharat, arthaat India (Bharat, that is India).”
For years, the two have coexisted on the government letterhead as “Bharat Sarkar” and “Government of India”. Even at the G20 Summit, the logo has both “Bharat” and “India”, reflecting Article 1 of the Constitution.