What’s in a Name, India, Bharat, Hindustan or Hind?

“India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” The Indian Constitution.

What’s in a name, India, Bharat, Hindustan or Hind? Politicising, fear and Hindutva divide-and-rule politics are being played out in India with the advent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in office. The BJP is an offshoot of the radical Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindutva nationalist paramilitary force of which the Indian Prime Minister has been a member since the 1960s.  

It is an established fact that a Hindu fanatic of the RSS assassinated Mohandas Gandhi. It is apparent that Modi and the RSS are hellbent on establishing a Hindu Kingdom of Bharat, a Sanskrit name of the Brahmanical North. 

The name “India” is derived from the Sindhu River, also known as the Indus River. Ancient Iran referred to its neighbour, the people East of the Sindhu (Indus) River, as Hindu and thus Hindustan. So, is Hindu an outside-imposed term, too? Should it be replaced as well? A very popular member of the opposition, Shashi Tharoor believed that – “there is no constitutional objection to calling India “Bharat.” He is hoping that “the Modi government will not be so foolish as to completely dispense with ‘India’, a brand value built up over centuries.” 

India is also known as “Bharat” and enshrined in its constitution. Both names are used interchangeably – both feature on Indian passports, for example. However, this latest frenzy to politicise the name “Bharat” is a mere gimmick of BJP/RSS radicals to win the next election. This is because in July of this year, “26 opposition parties” decided to work out seat-sharing arrangements as they aim to unseat the ruling BJP party in the upcoming 2024 election. India’s opposition Congress Party leader, Rahul Gandhi, said: “If we unite in an efficient way, it is impossible for the BJP to win.” The opposition coalition bloc is called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), so the stage is set to attack the opposition for using a name that they claim is associated with the British “enslavement” of India. Had this new “coalition” not united under this acronym, it would not have been an issue to rush to change the name to “Bharat.” The media is speculating that the BJP will soon eliminate the name India for Bharat like they recently did on documents for the recent G20 Summit that India hosted.

The propaganda of the BJP/RSS has blinded its followers, who claimed that the name India has no meaning or that “it was the people who enslaved us who gave us this name “is utter rubbish and holds no historical truth”.

Further, it was the Aryan Brahmin North that enslaved the Dalits (Untouchables). Thus, the “Black Dravidians” from the South are not Bharatas. They are not Indo-Aryan people, nor are South Indian languages related to the Indo-Aryan languages of North India. “Bharatas were the Vedic tribe mentioned in the Rigveda. The name Bharata was used for a group of people who lived in the northwest and who are mentioned in the Rigveda.” This is basically the Brahmin Belt. Hence, India is a more inclusive name. Sanskrit was a language that only Brahmins had access to, and lower castes could not access the religious texts of the Brahmin and upper castes. It was exclusively a religious sacred language of the Brahmins and not the commoners whom they enslaved. I do not see why South Indians will fall for this propaganda.

Since coming to office, the BJP/RSS have blamed Muslims for all of India’s ills, from the COVID-19 pandemic to cow killing and taking Hindu brides. The Hindutva fundamentalist Home Minister is busy stripping Muslims of citizenship and bulldozing Muslim properties. These Saffron-clad RSS Talibans have demonised Muslim Hindustanis to the point of lynching and gunning them down. They have harassed Muslim women on social media by “auctioning off” dozens of Muslim women in India. The new app is called Bulli Bai – a slur for Muslim women.” These radicals have coined the term “Love Jihad,” an oxymoronic term of a conspiracy theory by the RSS that Muslim men are seducing Hindu girls. 

Mosques are being razed, Muslim names of cities, towns, villages, and streets are removed, and 500 years of Muslim and Mughal history from textbooks have been deleted. And it doesn’t end there. They are so vile in spreading propaganda that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu temple. The Mughals became Indians, married to Indians, enriched Indian civilisations in areas of administration, united various domains, and expanded trade and industries; and ushered in a new renaissance of architecture, art, music, cuisine, literature, textile and fashion that India is known for today. Least not, the Mughals began constructing baths and toilets they all began constructing in India.

Why doesn’t the BJP/RSS rid India of the slave-like caste system that is very much alive in India and which stratified people permanently? Historically, India was always a divided region of different independent domains enslaved by the caste system, which is the biggest factor why Indians continue to convert to Islam and Christianity. It is convenient to beat up on religious minorities in India to win votes. Much like in 2002, when Modi was the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, inter-communal violence erupted, which resulted in the deaths of almost 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, because of the politics and actions of the Chief Minister of that state. Christians, too, and their Churches are being brutalised. Just recently, a Christian woman from a vulnerable ethnic group in Manipur was paraded naked and raped in public by BJP RSS vigilantes. 

What is alarming is that this terror is being exported to Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, the United States, and the UK. These developments could have repercussions in multicultural Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad. Diaspora Indians must avoid importing ancient animosities into their chosen settled lands.