IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


6th September, 2023 Polity

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Picture Courtesy: indiankanoon.org

Context: A possible name change for India has been a topic of debate for some time. Some people argue that the name Bharat better reflects the nation's identity and culture, while others maintain that India is a well-established and internationally recognized name. The Constitution of India does not favour one name over the other, as it states in Article 1: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”


  • Article 1 of the Indian Constitution deals with the name and territorial jurisdiction of India. It is a fundamental provision that lays the foundation for the entire constitutional framework.


  • The framing of Article 1 of the Indian Constitution aimed to address the complex issue of defining the territory of the newly independent nation of India. Before gaining independence in 1947, the Indian subcontinent was under British colonial rule, and it was divided into British India (which included provinces and regions directly governed by the British) and hundreds of princely states, each with its ruler.
  • After gaining independence, one of the challenges was to integrate these princely states and regions into a unified and sovereign Indian nation. The framers of the Indian Constitution recognized the need to create a single political entity that would encompass all these territories. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, which reads, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States," was a crucial provision in this regard.
  • The inclusion of both the names "India" and "Bharat" in Article 1 was a way to acknowledge the cultural and historical diversity of the nation. It was also a way to bridge linguistic and cultural differences among various regions by recognizing both the Sanskrit-derived "Bharat" and the internationally recognized "India."

So, Article 1 of the Indian Constitution played a pivotal role in defining the territory and character of the newly formed Indian nation by consolidating various regions, princely states, and territories into a single entity called India.

Article 1 of the Indian Constitution

  • Admission or Establishment of New States: Article 1 also empowers Parliament to admit new states into the Union or establish new states. This provision has been used several times in India's history to create new states or reorganize existing ones for administrative or linguistic reasons. For example, the creation of states like Telangana and Uttarakhand.
  • Formation of Union Territories: Besides new states, Article 1 allows for the formation of Union Territories. Union Territories are regions directly administered by the central government of India. This provision has been used to designate certain areas as Union Territories, such as Chandigarh and Lakshadweep.
  • Alteration of Boundaries: Article 1 also provides for the alteration of state boundaries through a constitutional amendment. This has been utilized to modify state boundaries to address regional concerns or for the reorganization of states.
  • Names and Boundaries of States and Union Territories: The detailed names and boundaries of states and Union Territories are not part of the Constitution but are specified by laws enacted by Parliament. This allows for flexibility in making changes as needed without requiring a constitutional amendment.

Debate and discussion over the names "India" and "Bharat"

The name 'Bharat'

  • The name 'Bharat' holds significant cultural and historical importance in India, and its roots can be traced back to ancient texts and legends.

Derived from Puranic Literature and the Mahabharata

  • The name 'Bharat' finds its origins in ancient Indian texts, particularly the Puranic literature and the epic Mahabharata.
  • In the Mahabharata, 'Bharat' refers to the legendary king Bharata, who played a central role in the epic. He was the son of King Dushyanta and Queen Shakuntala and is considered a symbol of unity and strength.

Supraregional and Subcontinental Significance

  • In a cultural and religious context, 'Bharata' refers to a supraregional and subcontinental territory where the Brahmanical system of society prevailed. This concept highlights the idea of a united subcontinent under a common cultural and religious framework.

Ancient King 'Bharata'

  • The name 'Bharat' is closely associated with the legendary ancient king 'Bharata.' He is considered the ancestor of the Rig Vedic tribe of the Bharatas.
  • King Bharata's significance extends beyond just his historical role. He is often regarded as the progenitor of all peoples of the Indian subcontinent. This association highlights the idea of a shared ancestry and heritage among the diverse communities in India.

Cultural and National Identity

  • 'Bharat' has been used historically to refer to the Indian subcontinent as a whole, emphasizing the idea of a united cultural and national identity that transcends regional boundaries.
  • It symbolizes the continuity of civilization and cultural traditions in the Indian subcontinent over thousands of years.

Official Name of India

  • 'Bharat' is not just a historical or cultural concept; it is also the official name of India in the Hindi language. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution declares that India shall be known as 'Bharat' in Hindi and as 'India' in English.

In summary, the name 'Bharat' has deep roots in India's ancient history and culture. It is associated with legendary figures, the subcontinental identity, and the idea of a united and continuous cultural heritage. This name reflects the rich and diverse tapestry of India's history and serves as a symbol of unity and identity for the nation.

The name 'India'

  • The name 'India' has a historical evolution that is intertwined with the region it represents.

Origins in the Term 'Indus'

  • The name 'India' has its roots in the term 'Indus,' which refers to the Indus River.
  • The Indus River, located in present-day Pakistan, was a significant geographical landmark in the ancient subcontinent.
  • The term 'Indus' was Persianized into 'Hindu' due to linguistic transformations over time.

Evolution to 'Hindustan'

  • Over time, 'Hindu' evolved into 'Hindustan.' The suffix '-stan' in Persian means 'land of,' so 'Hindustan' translates to the 'Land of the Hindus.'
  • 'Hindustan' became associated with the region beyond the Indus River, encompassing much of the Indian subcontinent.

Usage by Various Civilizations

  • The term 'Hindustan' was used by various ancient civilizations and cultures, including the Persians, Greeks, and later Islamic empires, to describe the vast territory to the east of the Indus River.
  • It signified the geographical extent and cultural diversity of the Indian subcontinent.

European Exploration and Colonial Period

  • During the European Age of Exploration, 'India' was adopted as the name for the subcontinent. European explorers, traders, and colonial powers began referring to the region as 'India.'
  • This usage was reinforced during the British colonial period when the British East India Company and later the British Crown ruled over significant portions of the subcontinent.
  • 'India' became the official name for the British-ruled territories in the Indian subcontinent.

Continued Usage as the Official Name

  • After gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947, the newly formed nation adopted the name 'India' as its official name.
  • India's Constitution, adopted in 1950, officially declared the country as the "Union of India" in Article 1 and "Bharat" in Hindi.

In summary, the name 'India' has a complex history that evolved from the term 'Indus' and went through linguistic transformations, becoming 'Hindustan' and eventually 'India.' It was used by various civilizations and European explorers to describe the vast Indian subcontinent. During the British colonial period, 'India' became the official name for the British-ruled territories, and after independence, it was retained as the official name of the modern nation of India.

Indian Constitution

  • The inclusion of both 'India' and 'Bharat' in Article 1 of the Indian Constitution reflects the complex historical and cultural dynamics that were at play during the drafting of the Constitution.

Debate over Name Selection

  • When the Indian Constitution was being drafted by the Constituent Assembly, there was a significant debate over which name to use for the newly independent nation.
  • Some members of the Constituent Assembly were opposed to using the name 'India' because they saw it as a reminder of the colonial past, as it had been the name used by the British colonial administration to refer to the subcontinent.
  • These members argued that 'India' did not adequately reflect the historical and cultural diversity of the nation and wanted a name that had deeper indigenous roots.

Historical Significance of 'Bharat'

  • 'Bharat' held deep historical and cultural significance. It was associated with ancient Indian texts and legends, as mentioned earlier.
  • 'Bharat' symbolized the continuity of civilization and cultural traditions in the Indian subcontinent over thousands of years and was seen as a name that better represented the indigenous identity of the country.

Compromise in Article 1

  • To reconcile these differing viewpoints and acknowledge the multifaceted identity of India, a compromise was reached. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution was drafted to read, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States."
  • This inclusion of both names recognized the historical and cultural significance of 'Bharat' while retaining 'India' to acknowledge its usage and familiarity, even if it had colonial connotations.

Symbol of Unity in Diversity

  • The inclusion of both names in the Constitution served as a symbol of unity in diversity. It reflected the diverse linguistic, cultural, and historical backgrounds of the people of India.
  • It was a deliberate attempt to bridge the gap between different linguistic and cultural regions and create a sense of shared national identity.

Continued Relevance

  • Today, 'India' and 'Bharat' are both used to refer to the country, and their dual nomenclature remains a testament to India's rich cultural and historical heritage.
  • This compromise in the Constitution has allowed people from various linguistic backgrounds to identify with the country using their preferred name, fostering a sense of inclusivity.

In summary, the debate over whether to use 'India' or 'Bharat' during the drafting of the Indian Constitution highlighted the complexities of India's historical and cultural identity. The compromise to include both names in Article 1 was a way to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity within the nation while recognizing the historical significance of both names. This dual nomenclature continues to be a unique feature of India's identity and constitution.


  • The Indian Constitution enshrines the vision of a strong and united India that respects its diversity and federalism in Article 1. India should also uphold its territorial integrity and sovereignty by addressing its internal and external challenges peacefully and amicably. India should also cultivate a sense of national identity and pride among its citizens by celebrating its cultural heritage and constitutional values.


Q. What is the historical significance of the 'India v/s Bharat' debate in the context of India's socio-cultural and economic evolution, and how has it impacted the country's development? What are the key challenges arising from this divide, and what strategies should be considered for bridging this gap and ensuring a more inclusive and balanced way forward?