What would you like your country to be named: India or Bharat? The debate was triggered by the invites for the G20 dinner, hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, in the name of “President of Bharat”. Already, the NCERT has suggested changing the name “India” to “Bharat” in school textbooks. But what will such a change entail? Will it be accepted by all citizens? What will be the financial cost of such a change?
Many experts believe that the Union government got worked up by the emergence of the new opposition coalition with the acronym “INDIA” (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance)—more so, as state elections were round the corner as well as the Lok Sabha elections in 2024—and tried to counter this alliance by suggesting “Bharat” as the country’s official name.
We examine the two issues emanating from this controversy: the “India, that is Bharat” discourse, and more importantly, the ongoing elections in five states. For instance, in Madhya Pradesh, the key vote bank that both the BJP as well as the “INDIA” alliance is trying to covet is the Adivasi community. In Rajasthan, we look at how caste and community politics have always decided the winner. Though issues related to water, electricity and roads are discussed, after the elections, the winner always forgets these critical concerns. In Telangana, unemployment is a burning issue, and thousands of people have been protesting on the streets.
But it will not be easy for the “INDIA” alliance to take on a confident BJP. That’s because the country’s experience with such rainbow coalition governments has been bad. But many experts still believe that the “INDIA” alliance has been able to set the electoral tone to shape the political narrative. It remains to be seen whether India or Bharat will win the hearts of the people of the nation.
(This appeared in the magazine as 'It is time to vote')