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  • Writer's pictureNyayshastram

Should "INDIA" Be Renamed As "BHARAT"?

Meenakshi Sharma & Ritik Sharma, Students, University of Petroleum & Energy Studies


On September 18, 1949, the Constituent Assembly considered various names such as Bharat, Hindustan, Hind, BharatBhumi or Bharatvarsh for the unborn and unrecognised Indian Country. Eventually, the name “India” was chosen for the representation of our nation globally and its get official under the provisions of Art.1(1) of Constitution of India, which state that ‘India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States[1]. Hence it can be implied that the words Bharat and India can be used as synonyms for each other with some of the technicality.

“Often, as I wandered from meeting to meeting, I spoke to my audiences of this India of ours, of Hindustan and Bharat, the old Sanskrit name derived from the mythical founders of the race.[2]

These words were written by "Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru" in "Discovery of India". He wrote this sentence to pay tribute to the country's rich cultural heritage, and the cultural heritage is on the verge of breaking away from British rule. It is believed that Nehru has consciously noticed the different names describing Indian thought and the unity of the people who have replaced all Indian people.

Four years later, with the publication of the book, Indian Constitution came into effect and preference was given to India as the primary name of our country, and this can be shown in the Art.1 of our Constitution, where other names were deleted or dropped out[3].

As William Shakespeare remarked ‘What is in a Name’ but in the present scenario, most of the population does not acknowledge this thought in their daily lives, because the recognition of any individual, ancestry, social group, divinity, belongs from the title attached to them.

After an enormous and extraordinary debate after independence about the selection of the name of our country, in the Constituent Assembly, two names ‘INDIA’ and ‘BHARAT’ had been adopted by the assembly. After many decades, the terminology of our country once again became a topic of debate.

Public Interest Litigation

Currently, another Public Interest Litigation[4] under Art.32 of the Constitution of India was filed a few days ago by a Delhi based farmer named Namah, who seeks to rename India as Bharat or Hindustan and with the purpose to amend the Art.1 of the Constitution of India, by claiming that such replacement will lead to develop a feeling of unity and corroborate the nationals to surmount the slavery era of our country. According to the petition, the withdrawal of the word ‘India’ results in inculcating the feeling of gratification and honour in our nationality, especially for future generations.

The above-mentioned petition has been filed for seeking enforcement of the fundamental and legal rights provided by the provisions of Art.21 of the Constitution of India, which demonstrates equal right to every nation to designate his country as Bharat. It was further contended in the petition that at the time of deciding the name for our country, in the Constituent Assembly also, a strong wave was in favour of naming the country as Bharat or Hindustan. However, in the shadow of British Raj and English Rule, precedence was given to the word India.

In the petition, there has been a mention of the debate of the Constituent Assembly on the Art.1 of Constitution of India, as the assembly proposes two names Bharat and India, which was prepared under the Chairmanship of BR Ambedkar. Among the other members of the Constituent Assembly, HV Kamath and Seth Govind Das were the ones who objected against the usage of India as the primary name and Bharat as the substitute for it. Their arguments were supported by the evidence of Mahabharat, Ved-Puran and the writings of travellers, which illustrate that the ancient and original name of our country is Bharat. Moreover, they were firmly in opposition to the language which denotes India as Bharat; they were in support of the latter one. Among them, the others who were in the battle of supporting Bharat for the representation of India, includes KV Rao, BM Gupta, Har Govind Pant, Sriram Sahai and Kamalapati Tripathi.[5] They all went to such an extent in supporting their contention, by saying that our county was in bondage for a thousand years and this free country will now regain its own name[6].

Judgement or Rejection

Supreme Court on June 2, 2020, heard the petition seeking the replacement of name “India” with “Bharat”. The Hon’ble Court rejected to entertain the plea by allowing it to be considered as a depiction and representation to the concerned Ministry.

Earlier also, S.C had rejected the petition for the same purpose on March 12, 2016, and later the plea of Niranjan Bhatwal, a Mumbai based social activist was also rejected by stating that every citizen of this country has the freedom to represent and call his/her country by any name and stated that “If they want to call it Bharat, they can do so, nobody is stopping them.” Moreover, the court held that there is no need to replace or rename because 'India is already called Bharat in the provision of the Constitution of India'.

Is There a Glitch with “India”?

It is generally believed that the name India became popular in English after the 17th century, and is therefore considered to be given to us by the British. It seems that even after 70 years of freedom, we still use the name given by sovereignty.

Therefore, the argument is inconsistent because the two names of the Indian continent and Bharat were used in the earlier subcontinent, while our country (today India and Bharat) originated from Bharat the glorious civilisation of Vaasa and the Great Indus Valley.

By using the name India as one of the two names in our country, we also reserve the legal right to use only the name "India", although many other political entities such as Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and many other countries can also Advocate the use of this name. Likewise, if we completely abandon the name.[7]

In fact, most of the provisions of the Indian Constitution are derived from other constitutions and are largely borrowed documents, but every Bharatwasi has great respect for this document. Therefore, if we adopt the same logic as the name, then we'd better debate the abolition of the borrowed Constitution and possibly talk about the name later, which has been brilliant for a long time. Therefore, we can say that the two names of Bharat and India have different ancestry, so we cannot argue about which is older or more suitable. Bharat originated from ancient Greece and sacred texts, while India originated from the oldest civilisation.


After studying the history and etymology of these different terms, in-depth, "India" continues to resonate most with me. This is partly because of my growth in a particular generation, and partly because of my understanding of "India". Although the last names of our country, in different languages can be considered synonyms for "India"​​, yet their ancient and ethical ties make their meaning more complicated. Therefore, although "Bharat" and "Hindustan" should have their due meanings, I think "India" is necessary because it can represent all the names created at that time (at the time of independence). Today, some people have nothing to do with this term and this amount to the failure of governance. Nevertheless, the intention behind "India" fascinated me.

Jawahar Lal Nehru also stated it in his book "Discovery of India" which best describes the diversity and unity of India. He said that despite the difference in various parts of our region, yet it was India. Though these terms are different in etymology, history and essence, and they cause different emotions among different people. However, in the final analysis, they are all India. They are the glorious Indian of all differences and the glorious Indian of all in common.



[1] [2] [3] [4] Namah v. Union of India, June 3, 2020 [5] constitution-sc-refuses-to-entertain-plea-for-name-change-allows-it-to-be-treated-as-representation.

[6] [7]

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