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Why A G20 Invite Calling India By Its Sanskrit Name Is Generating Confusion

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Dinner invitations referring to India by its Sanskrit name have sparked a political controversy and public debate about what the country should be called, its history, and its colonial heritage, as New Delhi gets ready to host international leaders for the G20 Summit.

Invitations to a dinner being held by Indian President Droupadi Murmu on Saturday were sent out by the “President of Bharat” rather than the typical “President of India” according to a source in her office.

Both India and Bharat are used in the country of 1.4 billion people, which has more than 20 official languages.

“India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States,” the country’s constitution states.

Both the Hindi name for India and the English word Bharat are found on Indian passports, for instance.

But under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its inclusion on the invitations represents a significant shift in the naming tradition the nation uses on the international stage.

The G20 meeting is a first for India as Modi seeks to increase New Delhi’s influence on the world stage after serving as prime minister for almost ten years. During that time, he positioned himself as a leader committed to eradicating the nation’s colonial past and stressed the need to “liberate ourselves from the slavery mindset.”

Before it became independent in 1947, Britain dominated India for approximately 200 years. Those who favor the term Bharat claim that the name India is best recognized around the world is a holdover from the colonial era.

The Sanskrit word for the Indus River, Sindhu, was used by early Western civilizations to form the name India, which was eventually adopted by the British Empire.

According to BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav, the name “Bharat” is an emblem of our culture. The word “India” is an insult that the British gave us.

The Men’s Cricket World Cup, which will be hosted in India this year, will feature Bharat on players’ shirts, according to former India cricket ace Virender Sehwag.

“We are Bhartiyas, India is a name given by the British and it has been long overdue to get our original name ‘Bharat’ back officially,” he said on social media.

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