A Case for Bharat

India currently stands at a critical juncture, faced with a momentous decision: to either follow the path of destiny or forge a future guided by its dreams.

A Case for Bharat

Representation image

India currently stands at a critical juncture, faced with a momentous decision: to either follow the path of destiny or forge a future guided by its dreams. This pivotal choice has gained fresh momentum under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi.

India has embarked on a transformative journey, positioning itself proudly on the global stage through remarkable advancements in economics, technology, and science. Notably, Mohan Bhagwat, the current chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has sparked a spirited debate by advocating for the renaming of India to Bharat.

This proposal is not merely a superficial alteration of nomenclature; it represents a significant step towards a “New Vision for India” that authentically mirrors the region’s cultural identity. Contrary to misconceptions, this change does not seek to emphasize any one religion, particularly Hinduism.


Instead, it underscores the diverse and rich tapestry of cultures and traditions that coexist within the country, collectively encapsulated by the term ‘Hindutva.’ This renaming initiative aims to encapsulate the holistic way of life in the region and bestow a unique identity upon the nation. The renaming of cities and states in India, such as Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, and Bangalore, serves as a compelling precedent for this endeavour.

The renaming initiatives are not new and have been carried out multiple times historically, for the simple reason that a name represents the cultural roots and aspirations that unite the people of a country. Upper Volta changed its name to Burkina Faso to reflect the end of French colonisation, the Gold Coast gained independence from the British and was renamed Ghana, the United States of America was named so as to reflect the aspiration of making each and every colony in America free and independent.

The same sentiment underscores the exercise of renaming India to Bharat, a name enshrined even in our Constitution by the very founding fathers. Etymologically, the word Bharat signifies something which holds and nurtures. Nowhere else can such ecological, biological and cultural diversity and magnitude be found ~ thus the name Bharat beautifully reflects the country that holds and nurtures life in the world.

The word Bharat also has another interpretation as per a few ancient traditions ~ someone who is attached /devoted to light (wisdom) based on the two root words “’bha” which means lustre or light and “rat” which means attachment. Nowhere else is there so much emphasis on seeking rather than believing and finding the meaning of life than in this country.

A deeper exploration of India’s vibrant history reveals that the region has been home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, particularly around the Indus Valley and MohenjoDaro. The indigenous inhabitants were referred to as “Indus,” and their land was known as “Bharat.” Importantly, this nomenclature was not tied to religion but reflected their cultural heritage. Over the centuries, India witnessed waves of invasions by Greeks, Huns, Persians, Mongols, and an extended Mughal rule.

These incursions contributed to the creation of various cultural and religious sites, including temples and mosques, ultimately leading to the emergence of numerous religious philosophies. In this diverse and inclusive milieu, coexistence and synthesis became the defining characteristic of Indian society. Muslims and Hindus, for instance, gave birth to the philosophy of Sufism, while Sikhs and Hindus contributed to the Radha Swami tradition.

This unique blend of cultures and religions paved the way for Hindutva, a way of life adapted harmoniously to accommodate people of different faiths, castes, and creeds. All the region’s natives became stakeholders in this collective culture. In time, individuals from around the world were drawn to Bharat’s all-encompassing embrace. Interestingly, those who practise Hindutva are commonly known worldwide as “Hindi.”

In the Arab world, people from the Indian subcontinent ~ Irndians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis ~ are collectively addressed as “Hindi.” Even the Chinese refer to Indians as “Hindi,” and the phrase “Hindi-Chini, bhai bhai” resonates in the collective memory of both nations. The French identify Indians as “Indu.” The global community holds profound admiration for the great spiritual luminaries and philosophers who hail from Bharat, including Vivekananda, Yogananda, Krishnamurti, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

These individuals have shared the essence of spirituality, emphasising balance over ritualistic practices found in various religions. Mr. Bhagwat’s proposal to rebrand India as Bharat is not intended to alter the secular character of the Indian Constitution, which upholds equality for all social and religious minorities, ensuring the protection of all citizens as equals. Prominent figures like Mark Tully, a veteran BBC journalist and former India head, assert that it is not in India’s nature to become a majoritarian nation.

Dr. Archie Brown, a professor of politics at the University of Oxford, emphasizes that democracy encompasses the right to vote freely, the freedom to form organizations, the right to compete for public office, freedom of expression, access to alternative sources of information, and the political accountability of leaders to their constituents, all under the rule of law. Imperfections in democracy affect both minority and majority communities equally. Prime Minister Modi has ushered in a transformative era, transcending traditional politics rooted in caste, creed, religion, and region.

His vision for India, encapsulated in “Sab Ka Saath-Sab Ka Vikas” (Together with All, Development for All), strives for equitable progress benefiting every citizen. Mr. Bhagwat’s proposal to rename India as Bharat complements this vision by creating a strong brand identity for products originating from Bharat. Minorities in India wholeheartedly believe in the Constitution’s commitment to secular democracy.

Even Muslims in Bharat will find a compelling connection to the region’s profound cultural heritage, home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The renaming of India to Bharat can become a unifying force, weaving together the rich tapestry of heritage from various castes, creeds, religions, and philosophies that coexist within the region.

Remarkably, leaders like Mr Bhagwat and Mr Modi possess the ability to redefine perceptions and blur the line between the possible and the impossible. Renaming the country as Bharat serves as a powerful tool to enhance the region’s fortunes. The time is ripe, and the time is now to introduce Bharat to the world as a beacon of unity, exemplifying the essence of ‘One Planet, One Earth, One Future.’

(The writer is a distinguished scientist and can be reached at jpglobalconsultinggroup@gmail.com)