Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced his intention to change the name of India to Bharat, a Sanskrit word that means “the land of the enlightened ones”. Modi said that the name change would reflect the country’s ancient heritage and cultural diversity, and would also boost its global image and identity.
However, the proposal has been met with fierce criticism from opposition parties, who have called it absurd, unnecessary, and divisive. They have accused Modi of trying to impose his Hindu nationalist agenda on the country, and of ignoring the pluralistic and secular nature of India.
The name change would require a constitutional amendment, which would need the support of two-thirds of both houses of parliament and half of the state legislatures. It is unclear whether Modi has enough allies to pass such a bill, or whether he would face legal challenges from the Supreme Court or other institutions.
The name India derives from the Indus River. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Persians to refer to the region, and later by the British colonial rulers. Bharat, on the other hand, is a name that appears in ancient Hindu scriptures and epics, such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. It is also one of the official names of India in its constitution, along with India and Hindustan.