On 'Bharat vs India' row, United Nations cites example of Turkiye

Sep 07, 2023 09:16 AM IST

The rumoured plans to replace official usage of the country's English name ‘India’ with 'Bharat' have triggered a major political row.

Amid the rumours around a possible name change of ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’, a top UN official on Wednesday said the world body considers requests from countries to change their names as and when it receives them. Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Farhan Haq cited the example of Turkey changing its name to Turkiye and the United Nations agreeing to the formal request, reported PTI.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.(Reuters)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.(Reuters)

“Well, in the case of Turkiye, we responded to a formal request delivered to us by the Government. Obviously, if we get requests like that, we consider them as they come,” he said in response to a question on reports that India’s name could be changed to Bharat, as quoted by PTI.

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A political row erupted on Tuesday after the invites for the G20 dinner called President Droupadi Murmu the ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the usual ‘President of India’, triggering speculation that the government may be about to change the country's name.

As the debate was triggered ahead of the upcoming special session of Parliament, the agenda of which is yet to be disclosed, it prompted unconfirmed reports that a change of name could be discussed and passed during the session. While the members of the ruling BJP suggested that the name Bharat should take primacy over India, opposition leaders termed it a distraction saying 'Bharat' is already mentioned in the constitution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, told his ministerial colleagues on Wednesday to avoid the political row around the ‘Bharat’ issue, noting that it has been the country's ancient name.

The preamble to the English version of the constitution starts with the words “We, the people of India…,” and then in Part One of the document it states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

In Hindi, the constitution replaces India with Bharat everywhere, except the part defining the country’s names, which says in Hindi, “Bharat, that is India, shall be a Union of States.”

Changing India's name to only Bharat would require an amendment to the constitution which would need to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament.

(With inputs from agencies)

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