'President Of Bharat': G20 dinner invite sparks row over the potential Rs 14,000 crore cost India may incur to become 'Bharat'

'President Of Bharat': G20 dinner invite sparks row over the potential Rs 14,000 crore cost India may incur to become 'Bharat'

According to estimates, a name change from India to Bharat might cost the country upwards of Rs 14,000 crore

As India prepares to host the G20 Summit in New Delhi later this week, a significant controversy has arisen regarding the nomenclature used on President Draupadi Murmu's official invitations to foreign leaders. Instead of the traditional "President of India," the invitations now bear the name "President of Bharat." This shift has sparked a heated debate, with the opposition accusing the ruling BJP of engaging in political rebranding.

The controversy comes just two days after the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological mentor, suggested that India should abandon the name "India" in favor of "Bharat." RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stated, "We must stop using the word India and start using Bharat. At times we use India to make those who speak English understand. This comes as the flow. However, we must stop using this... The name of the country Bharat will remain Bharat wherever you go in the world. In spoken and written language, one must say Bharat."

This change in nomenclature on the international stage is of particular significance as India prepares to host prominent world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and others, for a dinner on September 9 in Delhi.

Amidst discussions about the potential renaming of the country and the possibility of the government officially adopting "Bharat" as the new name, the opposition has convened meetings. However, opposition leaders have denied reports suggesting that they plan to boycott the upcoming special parliamentary session from September 18.

If the central government proceeds with a resolution to rename the country as "Bharat," it could be viewed as a political maneuver aimed at the opposition parties that have united under the name "INDIA." The opposition alliance, known as the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A), comprises 26 participating parties and plans to contest the 2024 General Elections as a unified front.

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Renaming a country or a province, while it may appear superficial, involves extensive changes at various levels, from local to international. This process is time-consuming and costly, requiring coordination between public and private entities. It also necessitates changes at the individual citizen level.

For a diverse nation like India, with a population of over 1.4 billion people representing myriad cultures, languages, and ethnicities, such a renaming endeavor is exceptionally complex.

Previous instances of renaming cities in India have incurred substantial costs. For example, the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj in 2018 cost the state government over Rs 300 crore, as reported by India Today. Expenses include updating maps, road navigation systems, highway landmarks, and official paraphernalia in state and civic authority offices, among other things. Private businesses, corporate entities, and non-governmental institutions in the affected city or state also bear additional costs.

Looking at a similar renaming exercise in the international context, when Swaziland changed its name to Eswatini in 2018 to remove colonial connotations, an estimate by an intellectual property lawyer put the cost at $60 million. This estimation was based on a comparison to rebranding exercises in large corporations, where rebranding typically consumes up to 10 percent of the overall marketing budget.

Applying a similar cost estimation model to India's case, considering the country's total revenue receipts of Rs 23.84 lakh crore for the fiscal year ending in 2023, the cost of renaming India to Bharat could be estimated at Rs 14,304 crore. To put this in perspective, the central government spends nearly Rs 14,000 crore every month on its food security program, which provides sustenance to 80 crore Indians.

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Whether the central government is genuinely committed to pursuing the name change will likely become clearer during the upcoming special parliamentary session. For now, it is confirmed that foreign heads of state will attend the G20 official dinner with the "President of Bharat."

The G20 Summit, scheduled for September 9-10 at the Bharat Mandapam in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, will see the participation of world leaders such as US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Australian PM Anthony Albanese, Japan PM Fumio Kishida, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, among others. Notably, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be absent from the G20 Meeting, with Chinese Premier Li Qiang attending in his place.

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