Modi uses 'Bharat' name plate in potential sign of country name change

Bharat is that? Indian Prime Minister Modi convenes G20 conference with a name plate using other name for India

  • The Indian PM had a name plate that said ‘Bharat’ at the opening G20 session
  • Bharat comes from Sanskri; India is rooted in the Indus River 
  • ‘Bharat welcomes the delegates as the President of the G20’ 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off events at the G20 summit using a name plate that said ‘Bharat,’ amid speculation that his government could be moving toward a formal name change.

The name plate put Bharat moniker, which comes from ancient Sanskrit, on the global stage, at a time where Modi, who leads a Hindu nationalist party, is presenting himself as the leader of a ‘Global South.’

It came after state-issued invitations to the event by Droupadi Murmu identified the official as ‘President of Bharat.’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off Saturday’s proceedings at the G20 with a name plate that said Bharat, a Sanskrit name for India. It prompted speculation of a possible name change for the country of 1.4 billion people

India for some has taken on colonial associations, although it has its roots in the Indus river, which was itself called ‘Sindhu’ in Sanskrit. Yet another historic name for the country is Hindustan, which has Persian-language roots.

Other officials in Modhi’s Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party government, known as the BJP, have also used the word.  

The use of the word comes at a summit where a major branding effort is underway

Modi is using the summit to showcase his nation’s prestige and culture – as well as himself. 

Modi also used the word when he told attendees that ‘Bharat welcomes the delegates as the President of the G20.’ Signs for the G20, which are plastered all around the venue, say both Bharat in Hindi and India in English.

The gate for the gleaming new venue that hosts the annual confab is named the ‘Bharat Mandapam’ or ‘Bharat Pavilion. 

If the government does seek to change the name of the world’s most populous democracy, home to 1.4 billion, it wouldn’t be the first. 

Countries including Myanmar (formerly Burma), Turkiye (formerly Turkey) and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) have made a switch.  

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