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India Abuzz Over Rumoured Plans to Change Country’s Name to ‘Bharat’


LAHORE MIRROR (AFP) — India was buzzing with speculation on Tuesday over rumoured plans to scrap the official usage of the country’s English name after a state-issued invite sent to world leaders referred to it as “Bharat”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has worked to remove lingering symbols of British rule from India’s urban landscape, political institutions and history books, but its next move could be the biggest such action yet.

Modi himself typically refers to India as “Bharat”, a word dating back to ancient Hindu scriptures written in Sanskrit, and one of two official names for the country under its constitution.

Members of his Hindu-nationalist ruling party have previously campaigned against using the country’s better-known moniker, India, which has its roots in Western antiquity and was imposed during the British conquest.

This weekend India hosts the G20 summit of world leaders, capped with a state dinner that invitation cards said would be hosted by the “President of Bharat”.

The government has called a special session of parliament for later in the month while remaining tight-lipped about its legislative agenda.

But broadcaster News18 said unnamed government sources had told it that Bharatiya Janata Party lawmakers would put forward a special resolution to give precedence to the name “Bharat”.

Rumours of the plan were enough to spark a mix of opposition lawmakers and enthusiastic support from other quarters.

“I hope the government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’,” Shashi Tharoor of the opposition Congress party said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We should continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history, a name that is recognised around the world.”