‘Bharat’ replaces ‘India’ in G20 dinner invite by President Murmu; move raises several questions

The speculation arises after invitation from the Ministry of External Affairs to G20 members for a dinner, which referenced the host as 'The President of Bharat' instead of the customary 'President of India.'

BySumit Jha

Published Sep 05, 2023 | 1:47 PMUpdatedSep 05, 2023 | 8:30 PM

The G20 Summit, scheduled for 9 and 10 September, will be attended by prominent global leaders, including US President Joe Biden. (X)

In a move that raises questions of Constitutional propriety and convention, “India” has been replaced with “Bharat” in the invitation extended to G20 delegates.

An invitation from the Ministry of External Affairs to G20 members for a dinner, which referenced the host as “The President of Bharat” instead of the customary “President of India”, has led to the Opposition raising questions of intent, propriety, and convention to the Narendra Modi-led Union government.

Will there be an official amendment?

The invitation has also prompted speculation regarding whether the forthcoming special session of the Parliament, scheduled from 18 to 22 September, might contemplate amending the Indian Constitution to replace the word “India” with “Bharat”.

Article 1 of the Indian Constitution defines the country as “India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of States”.

The G20 Summit, scheduled for 9 and 10 September, will be attended by prominent global leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

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Opposition reacts

Jairam Ramesh, the Congress General Secretary in charge of Communications, expressed concerns, viewing the invitation in the name of “President of Bharat” as an affront to the Union of States.

While the Congress’s Shashi Tharoor said, via a post on X, that there was no constitutional objection to calling India “Bharat”, as it was one of the country’s two names, he hoped that the government “will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’, which has incalculable brand value built up over centuries”.

He, instead, suggested, “We should continue to use both words rather than relinquish our claim to a name redolent of history.”

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In a statement, RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha said, “We never anticipated that the BJP would weaken so quickly after the Opposition alliance named itself INDIA. Article 1 of the Constitution clearly states that ‘India, that is Bharat, constitutes the Union of States’. It seems you’re changing names due to fear of us.”

He added, “Beneath our alliance’s name, there’s a tagline: ‘Judega Bharat, Jitega India’ (Bharat will unite, India will triumph). You won’t wrest either India or Bharat from our grasp. What you currently hold due to your majority will be reclaimed and the people will proclaim, ‘We cherish India and have a profound attachment to Bharat’.”

BJP leaders support move

Several leaders of the BJP, however, have expressed happiness over the G20 invitation replacing “India” with “Bharat”.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was among the first to welcome the move as an indicator of “Amrit Kaal” — a phrase repeatedly used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.