Monday, December 5, 2022

Our Motherland : Why India and not Bharat

Article 1 (1) of our constitution deals the name of the country as “India, that is Bharat”. Thus the original name of the country ‘BHARAT’ has been mentioned as auxiliary or associate name. Consequently ’Constitution of Bharat’ became ‘Constitution of India’ and everywhere term ‘India’ has been used and popularised.
Our culture & civilization is oldest in the world and the country’s name is actually Bharatvarsha. The ancient texts like Purans and Gita refer the country as Bharat. The name Bharat comes from the name of Chakravarti Samrat Bharat, the ancient brave king of the land and son of King Dushyant & Queen Shakuntala. Vishnu Puran mentions the territorial boundaries of the country as “Uttaram yat yamudrasya himade shachaiva dakshinam. Varsham tadu Bharatam nama Bharato yatra santatih.” (meaning, the country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharat). In the epic Mahabharat, our motherland has been mentioned as Bharatvarsha. The empire built and ruled by King Bharat included not just modern country’s territories but other surrounding countries like Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Burma (Brahm Desh), Nepal, Tibet, Afganistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Iran, China, Malayasia, Indonesia and some other regions.
It is said that present name India has been derived from Sindhu, the great holy river in the north-west. The Persian called the river “Hindu” and Greeks “Indu”. The first reference to name India in old English is known to be used in King Alfred’s translation of Orosius, a history of world events written in Latin in 5th Century. After this we were known by different names by Mughals, French, Spanish, Portuguese. Our land was called Hindusthan by Mughals, which was changed and popularized to India by East India Company as they knew us since King Alfred. In August 1858, British parliament passed the “Government of India Act” for transferring power from East India Company to the Crown and consequently our official name became India, which has not been changed even after independence.
The name ‘India’ imposed by the English coloniser is a symbol of slavery and it hurts the sentiments, self-respect, culture and civilization of Bharatiya people. The continuance of the term ‘India’ in place of ‘Bharat’ even after 73 years of independence is not only shameful, but undemocratic, anti-people as well as anti-national.
Is there any country named ‘Bharat’ on the world map? Does any foreign country know about the existence of a country as ‘Bharat’ in the world? Does even a foreigner who comes, travels & lives here, know that he is in ‘Bharat’? Obviously, by Indian Independence Act, 1947, ‘India’ got independence, but ‘Bharat’ not only remain chained, but lost its existence.
We must take lesson from those countries who have re-established their original name at independence or thereafter, such as ‘Ceylon’ to ’Sri Lanka’, ‘Dutch Guyana’ to ‘Surinam’, Gold Coast to Ghana, Nyasaland to Malawi, Northern Rhodesia to Zambia, Southern Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, Congo to Zaire, East Bengal (East Pakistan) to Bangla Desh, Zanzibar to Tanzania, Persia to Iran, Mesopotamia to Iraq, Formosa to Taiwan, Siam to Thailand, Burma to Myanmar, Holland to Netherland, South West Africa to Namibia, Bechuanaland to Botswana etc. Although, in Sanskrit literature Burma’s name is Brahm Desh.
Even in our country, hundreds of towns have been rechristened, notably Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata, Madras to Chennai, Bangalore to Bengaluru, Allahabad to Prayag, Gurgaon to Gurugram, Baroda to Vadodara, Trivandrum to Thiruvananthapuram, Waltair to Vishakhapatnam, Tanjore to Thanjhavur, Cawnpore to Kanpur, Calicut to Kozhikode, Cape Comorin to Kanyakumari, Monghyr to Munger, Mughalsarai to Deendayalnagar, Aurangabad to Shambhajinagar, Osmanabad to Dharashiv, Hoshangabad to Narmadapuram, Nasrullahganj to Bhairunda etc. In 2011, the name of the State “Orissa” was changed to “Odisha”.
Numerous other cities or places to be rechristened are either in pipeline or are in future agenda of the governments. This has been done not only by government of a particular Party, but by several conflicting ideologies minded parties. Also, thousands of villages, districts, stations, institutions, colleges, universities have been renamed by governments as well as civil society.
The ‘Parliament’ and the ‘Central Government’ must amend the constitution’s Article 1(1) to rechristen country’s name from “India, that is Bharat” to “Bharatvarsha, that is Bharat” or simply ‘BHARAT’, so that the country may be known as unique name in place of variety of names.
Er. Prabhat Kishore
(Author is a technocrat and academician)

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