India, that is Bharat: A Deep Dive into the Constituent Assembly’s Deliberations

The naming of a nation is a pivotal moment in its history, and India’s transition from “Bharat” to “India” was no exception. In this article, we explore the fascinating journey of how “India, that is Bharat” found its place in the Constitution of India.

1. Initial Debates on Article 1: The initial discussions on Article 1 of the Constitution were slated to begin on November 17, 1948. However, Govind Ballabh Pant suggested deferring the debate on the name of the country for a later date.

2. The Dual Identity: On September 17, 1949, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar presented the final version of Article 1, which incorporated both “Bharat” and “India.” Many members voiced their objections to using “India,” viewing it as a reminder of colonial rule.

3. Seth Govind Das’s Preference: Seth Govind Das from Jabalpur advocated for prioritizing “Bharat” over “India.” He and others argued that “India” merely served as an English-language substitute for “Bharat.”

4. Referring to Irish Constitution: Hari Vishnu Kamath referred to the Irish Constitution of 1937 to emphasize that changing the country’s name upon gaining independence was not unprecedented. He cited the Irish Constitution’s use of both “Eire” and “Ireland” to illustrate this point.

5. The People’s Choice: Hargovind Pant, representing the hill districts of the United Provinces, asserted that the people of Northern India strongly preferred “Bharatvarsha.”

6. Rejecting Colonial Legacy: Pant contended that holding onto the name “India” would be akin to embracing a word imposed by foreign rulers who had exploited the nation for their own gain.

7. Ancient References: Some members argued that ancient texts like the Vishnu Purana and Brahma Purana mentioned “Bharat.” Additionally, they referenced the seventh-century Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang, who also referred to the country as “Bharat.”

8. Seeking Cultural Relevance: Seth Govind Das advocated for a name that would reflect India’s rich history and culture, asserting that “Bharat” was more fitting in this regard.

9. Deriving Names from Scriptures: Kamath proposed several alternatives, including “Bharat,” “Bharatvarsha,” or “Bharatbhumi,” all of which were rooted in scriptures and historical references.

10. The Genesis of “Bharat”: Members debated the origins of the name “Bharat,” with some attributing it to the legendary figure “Sarvadamana,” known as the all-conqueror, who established his kingdom on this land.

11. Ambedkar’s Reminder: Throughout the discussions, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar reminded the Constituent Assembly that the use of “Bharat” was not met with opposition, underscoring its acceptance among members.

The journey from “Bharat” to “India, that is Bharat” was marked by passionate debates, historical references, and a desire to embrace a name that resonated with the nation’s cultural and historical identity. Ultimately, the inclusion of both names in Article 1 of the Constitution sought to strike a balance between acknowledging India’s colonial history and celebrating its rich heritage.

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