Published : Monday, 25 April, 2016 1:13 PM
Bharat & India - 2 different strokes?
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Among all the names that India has been known by, such as Bharatvarsh, Hindustan and India, Bharat and India seem to have stayed on as interchangeable names in the collective consciousness. While both the names are derived from different socio-political realities, they represent (in varying degrees) all that the country stands for.
A. Article 1 of the Constitution says, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States,” thus, legitimising the use of both the names. However, both names have different origins. The geographical space Bharat (said to be situated between the sea in the south and the Himalaya in the north) is perceived native because it was found in ancient Sanskrit literature. It is said to be named after King Bharata, one of the mythical founders of the race. India, on the other hand, is derived from Indus, stemming from the Sanskrit word ‘Sindhu’, local name for the Indus river. The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as ‘Indoi’, which translates as the people of the Indus and became popular with the foreign invaders.
B. Though, these names refer to one country, they seem to represent different facets of the country, depending on the socio-political contexts. While Bharat is associated with everything rural, India seems to comprise the urban. Bharat seems to be a poor cousin of India. Along with the several aspects on which the Indian society is divided, such as caste, class and religion, this division of the country splits the country into two.
C. This divide also reflects a schism in the psyche of the nation. It is difficult to ascertain what the ‘real’ India is. Is it the suave, tech-savvy, metropolitan, mall-going, English speaking urban population or is it the people who reside in villages, speak regional languages, uphold traditional values more rigidly and so on? Bharat seems to be about regional languages whereas India about English.
D. True. This discourse is endorsed and exploited by politicians. They along with their families would prefer to associate with ‘India’ and yet their vote bank truly resides in ‘Bharat.’ Bharat lends itself perfectly to the cause of nationalists and politicians as they exploit the country’s mythical identity by calling it ‘Bharat Ma.’ India, on the other hand, is the place for the rich, middle class, intellectuals, a name which has a global appeal, as opposed to Bharat.
E. I think that there is no such division in reality. It is all a media construct. While there may be stark differences between the ways of life of different people, this does not mean that they belong to separate categories. They belong to one country. Such divisions are to be found in other countries as well and yet those countries are known by one name, unlike India.
F. India is a huge country which envelops within its fold massive social, cultural, political and religious heterogeneity, all of which come together to give India a special character. It is unfair to treat the two names as a medium of division and should be taken to depict the idea of one country, which has space for various facets.
Though Bharat and India seem to be visibly different, too much should not be read into it. If at all there is a division between the ideas echoed by the two names, the larger notion of the nation must prevail and steps should be taken to remove differences, arising out of the two names.
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