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September 25, 2023


WE SHOULD CONTINUE TO USE BOTH INDIA AND BHARAT RATHER THAN RELINQUISH OUR CLAIM TO A NAME REDOLENT OF HISTORY, A NAME THAT IS RECOGNISED AROUND THE WORLD Reconciling irreconcilables is a great Indian virtue. When the Constituent Assembly was divided over whether to call our country 'India' or 'Bharat', our founding fathers and mothers found the perfect compromise in drafting the Republic's foundational document, referring to “India, that is Bharat” and making both sides happy. The Preamble speaks of “We, the People of India” in English, and “Bharat ke log” in Hindi. Article 52 declares, in English, that “There shall be a President of India”, and in Hindi calls the position “Bharat ke Rashtrapati”. A simple, uncomplicated practice followed from all this: in English, and therefore internationally, our country was referred to as 'India'; in Hindi and other Indian languages, 'Bharat' was our country's name. It worked, just as the country known in English as 'Germany' is Deutschland at home and to all who speak Deutsch (the language we refer to as 'German'). Nobody in that proud country, whose nationalism was at one time far more ferocious than ours, insisted that English speakers had to call them Deutschland too. But what has worked for 76 years, and for a few millennia before that, is apparently not good enough for our government. The sudden unsettling decision to have the President of India issue formal invitations as “the President of Bharat” and for the prime minister to sit behind a name-plate at the G20 summit saying 'Bharat' in the Roman script, rather than 'India', has sparked off a controversy that is both pointless and totally unnecessary. Why tamper with an arrangement that was working perfectly satisfactorily? As the Americans like to say, “if it ain't broke, why fix it?” We know what the ruling party's defenders are saying: that 'India' is a colonial imposition and that reverting to an ancient, historically sanctified name is a way of rejecting the “colonisation of the mind” that the name India implies. They are wrong, and even if they were right, dropping 'India' would still be a bad idea. Why are they wrong? Because the name India has nothing to do with British colonialism: it predates the British presence in India by nearly two millennia. The ancient Greeks and Persians used the term 'India' for the land beyond the river Sindhu, or 'Indus', well before the Christian era. The ancient historians Herodotus and Megasthenes wrote of India in the 5th and 4th centuries


Seven years after the dominant Maratha community first launched a series of silent morchas (protest marches) for their demands like reservations in jobs and education, the issue has returned to haunt politics in Maharashtra. Since 2016, around 58 `Maratha Kranti Morchas'--some of them having hundreds of thousands of people joining them--were organised in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. The agitation turned violent in 2018, further beleaguering the then Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena coalition. There was specula- tion that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which has a strong base among the Marathas and was then in the Opposition, had fuelled these protests to corner Fadnavis, a Brahmin. How-

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