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  India that is Bharath  


By: V.Sundaram, IAS
July 14, 2005
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


In the preamble to our Constitution, our founding fathers used the term `INDIA THAT IS BHARATH`. There is a particular and specific reason as to why this term `India that is Bharath` was used in the first sentence of the Constitution.

On 15th August 1947, not only India got her independence but also a newly-created country called Pakistan got her independence. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, popularly known amongst the Muslims as Quaid-E-Azam, became the first President of Pakistan. Long before he started demanding a separate nation for the Muslims of India, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was an ardent follower of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Jinnah also enjoyed the trust and confidence of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Jinnah was out and out a Congressman.

Jinnah had cordial relations with Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad was however a nationalist Muslim unlike Jinnah of later years.

In the days of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, in all the annual sessions of the Indian National Congress, several Congress leaders used to organise separate sessions for having an intensive and informed debate about the rights of Muslims, Harijans and women of India. In those days before the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian national scene, the Muslims of India had complete faith and confidence in the Indian National Congress. It is an unfortunate fact of history that only during the Gandhian Era, the Muslims started losing their trust and confidence in the Indian National Congress. Pandit Nehru in particular could never win the trust or confidence of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

The truth of the matter is that Jinnah, right from his early days, was not ever a strong advocate or champion of either the partition or vivisection of India. At the same time right, from the beginning, he was a consistent fighter for the rights of the Muslims in India. Jinnah in his later years was convinced that he could protect the rights of the Muslims in India only by creating a separate State where they would be in absolute majority. It is on account of this logic, Jinnah started making out a strong case for the creation of a separate nation for the Muslims.

Pakistan is a newly created country as a fallout effect of certain inexorable forces in our national history in the 1930s and 1940s. In our time honoured history and geography, Pakistan simply did not exist. Pakistan was created by amalgamating parts of the Punjab, Kashmir, Sind, Indus Valley, etc. (P-Punjab a part, A-Afghanistan a part, K-Kashmir a part, I-Indus Valley, S-Sind).

On the other hand, for countless centuries from the dawn of history, India was known as BHARATH. This name dates back to the Vedic Age. The name Bharath for India is derived from King Bharatha who was the son of Maharishi Rik who belonged to the Puru Clan to which the Pandavas also belonged. All the religious and social functions are marked by an invocatory chant in Sanskrit which runs as follows:

Pararthe Swetha Varaha Kalpe
Vaivastha Manvanthare
Ashta Vimshathi Tame Kaliyuge
Prathame Pathe Jumbudwipe Bharatha Varshe
BHARATHA Kande Meroho

It will be clear from this that the Bharath sub-continent is an ancient country going back to the mists of unknown antiquity. What we call Pakistan and Bangladesh today were all parts of this sub-continent for centuries. Pakistan was carved out of Bharath (India) and Bangladesh was carved out of Pakistan. In this new situation, it will no longer be geographically correct to call the remaining part of the sub-continent as India. It is this truncated remnant which is described in the first sentence of the Indian Constitution as `INDIA THAT IS BHARATH`. This term or expression does not fully bring out or represent the reality of the situation.

BHARATH from times immemorial was known as India in the west. Our Constitution makers ought to have used the term `BHARATH THAT WAS INDIA` and not as `India that is Bharath`. It is unfortunate that the makers of our Constitution completely lost sight of this vital fact and distinction sanctified by history and tradition.

Many of the national leaders felt at the time of our independence that just as the name Pakistan was given to the newly-created nation with a Muslim majority, so also the name Bharath should be given to India which had a Hindu majority. At the same time, they were also anxious to protect the rights of the minorities in India and keeping this in view they were magnanimous and broad minded enough to refer to our country as `India that is Bharath`.

We should also bear in mind the fact that the Government of India, taking note of this time honoured tradition, has named several government institutions and companies as Bharath Petroleum, Bharath Electronics, Bharath Aluminium, Bharath Heavy Electricals, Bharath State Bank etc. No one has ever alleged that the term Bharath in these contexts is either communal or smacks of saffronisation!

The highest national award open to any Indian is also called `Bharath Ratna`. It will thus be clear that we as a nation have not completely given up or put aside the ancient and traditional name of Bharath and we have retained it here and there for various national and public purposes.

It is quite possible that in the future countries like Pakistan, Ceylon, Bangladesh, India and Burma may get together and form themselves into an Indian Federation. We can possibly think of the name India as being appropriate for such a Federation if and ever it becomes relevant in the future. But as things stand today, it will be more representative of ground level geographical reality, historical and cultural tradition to call our country as BHARATH instead of INDIA.

Mahakavi Bharathi has referred to our country as Bharatha Desam and Bharatha Nadu with great patriotic fervour in his nationalistic songs and poems. Even Rabindranath Tagore in his famous National Anthem has described as `BHARATHA BHAGYA VIDHATA` which means that it is one`s good fortune to be born in Bharath.

Against the above background it will be clear that it will not be historically or culturally or geographically correct to call our country by a general name called India. Pakistan is also India, Bangladesh is also India, our country India is also India——all these three Indias together can legitimately be called India in the larger geographical sense. Having given the name of Pakistan to one part of this larger geographical entity and the name of Bangladesh to another part of the same geographical entity, we can not deny a separate name for our country which does full justice to its timeless cultural heritage and tradition. That is why I am of the view that we should legitimately call our country as BHARATH.

Several countries around the world have renamed themselves taking note of their age-old cultural traditions. Ceylon has become Sri Lanka. Burma has become Myanmar. Gold Coast in Africa has become Ghana. Likewise we should also rename our great country as Bharath. We should not allow petty minded politicians to come in the way of achievement of this glorious objective of calling India as BHARATH.

Some years ago a resolution was passed in New Delhi to the effect that India should be renamed as Hindustan. To this proposal, some objections were raised on the ground that people belonging to the minority faiths might get the wrong impression that our country belongs only to the Hindus. Against this background, the only feasible and sensible option open to us is to rename our country as BHARATH. In a historic judgment, the Supreme Court of India has declared that `Secularism` does not mean a State without any religion but only a State with equal respect for all religions. Supreme Court has also declared that in all our schools and colleges our students must be exposed to the ideals and traditions of all religions and this opportunity for broadening their mental horizons in their most impressionable years should not be denied to them on the ground of so-called policy of sterile and soulless `Secularism`.

So in this new situation all the citizens of India——Hindus, Muslims and Christians———should come forward to live together in an enlightened climate of understanding, tolerance, amity, mutual respect and regard for each other. That was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi——the father of our nation. The people of Bharath as a whole should strongly appeal to the Government of India to rename our great country as BHARATH.

V.Sundaram, IAS

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