Referring To India By Its Indigenous Name As Bharat Aligns With The Trend Of The Times
The BJP showed its people that their leaders are breaking the ideational-psychological chains of the colonial-era past, and this in turn shows the world that Bharat is proudly returning to its historical role as a globally significant civilization-state.
The decision to refer to Droupadi Murmu as President of Bharat instead of President of India in the official G20 dinner invitations that were just sent out sparked speculation that the ruling BJP will more frequently use their country’s indigenous name instead of its exogenous one. For those who aren’t aware, Bharat is the ancient Sanskrit name that locals have used for millennia, while India was invented by foreigners. Both are included in the Constitution, but India was hitherto prioritized by the authorities.
Critics claim that Bharat has turned into a dog whistle for signaling Islamophobia, which they accuse the BJP of weaponizing, while the world’s largest political party denies that allegation and insists that its citizens have the right to proudly refer to their country like their ancestors always have. No matter one’s opinion about the BJP, it can’t be denied that referring to India by its indigenous name as Bharat aligns with the trend of the times.
To explain, International Relations are beginning to once again take on dimensions of inter-civilizational relations whereby civilizations are rapidly returning to their lost status as subjects of foreign affairs. Russian scholar Leonid Savin described this development at length in his 2020 book titled “Ordo Pluriversalis: The End Of Pax Americana And The Rise Of Multipolarity” that was reviewed here shortly after its publication.
Of relevance to the present piece, this takes the form of the BJP embracing its civilization-state’s ancient heritage and leveraging it for soft power, trade, and prestige purposes. What the world nowadays popularly refers to as India wielded extensive influence for millennia that stretched from Central to Southeast Asia, with the linguistic dimension thereof even going further afield and forming the basis of what’s known as the Indo-European language family.
As the fountainhead of democracy and some have even compellingly argued philosophy as well, the legacy left by these civilizational forces is among the most powerful and lasting in all of human history. Part of the BJP’s appeal to its base is that it actively taps into this infinitely rich heritage to restore the pre-colonial pride that its people used to espouse before they were divided-and-ruled by the British. There’s nothing wrong with this since most major forces across the world are doing something similar.
Most Muslims never lost this pride nor shirked from publicly expressing it, while the Chinese, Russians, and even Westerners for example are returning to their prior approach that they earlier abandoned under foreign (Western) or ideological (leftist/liberal/socialist/communist) influence. This trend shouldn’t be conflated with fascism, supremacism, or isolationism since it’s actually democratic, inclusive, and outward-looking as will now be clarified.
While there’ll always be some rotten apples in any society that try to justify reprehensible bigotry or worse on this basis, the vast majority of those in these societies are proud of their civilizational heritage, which is why this trend is democratic. It’s also inclusive since it acknowledges the contributions of all its historical and present members, or at least should in its ideal form that proponents officially work towards, while the outward-looking description relates to its function in today’s emerging world order.
Elaborating on the last-mentioned point, the former model of globalization characterized by Western-centricity and the imposition of extreme liberalism is unraveling as a result of its US leader’s mistakes since 2001, the 2008 financial crisis, the Sino-American trade war, COVID-19, and the Ukrainian Conflict. This led to the bifurcation of the American elite into liberal-globalists who still cling to that model and a comparatively more pragmatic faction that’s at peace with letting decentralization processes unfold.
They’re fiercely competing with one another over the US’ policy towards Bharat, Bangladesh, and Russia, to give the three most geostrategically consequential examples right now, but the overall direction of global events is moving towards multipolarity like the pragmatic faction has already come to terms with. The dynamics unleashed by these socio-economic, ideational, and political decentralization processes are accelerating the rise of major non-Western states and empowering their civilizational expressions.
None of these civilizations want to isolate themselves. Rather, they’re all eager to engage with each other on these new terms since they believe that this will enrich humanity much more than if everyone continued moving towards homogeneity like would have been the case had the prior model remained intact. Bharat has a special role to play since it’s the most populous civilization-state and also envisages itself informally leading the Global South via the means that are detailed in this in-depth analysis here.
To that end, the BJP is setting an example for all fellow developing states by shedding the colonial-era exogenous name of India which was imposed by imperialists on the civilization that its indigenous people proudly refer to as Bharat, and it chose the G20 Summit to ensure maximum attention. Prime Minister Modi and his team hope that others will feel emboldened to follow suit by proudly embracing their own states’ indigenous names so as to inspire their people to fully complete all decolonization processes.
It’s every society’s sovereign right to decide whether to officially change the way that they’re referred to by others or prioritize the indigenous name embedded in their constitution like in Bharat’s case, but it would send an unmistakable message to the world if a critical mass of them did this in the near future. The global systemic transition to multipolarity is irreversible and leading to foreign affairs once again taking on inter-civilizational dimensions, which this potentially coordinated move would emphasize.
Regardless of what comes next, the BJP showed its people that their leaders are breaking the ideational-psychological chains of the colonial-era past, and this in turn shows the world that Bharat is proudly returning to its historical role as a globally significant civilization-state. There’s nothing controversial about this nor does it imply any bigoted intent. Referring to India by its indigenous name aligns with the trend of the times and simply draws attention to Bharat’s civilizational uniqueness.