Renaming India: A Three-Day Transformation, but Parliamentary Hurdles Loom


In recent discussions regarding the possible renaming of India to ‘Bharat,’ the process and implications have taken center stage. The government’s use of the term ‘Bharat’ in a booklet released for the G-20 summit, where it was referred to as ‘Bharat, The Mother of Democracy,’ has sparked fresh debates. Speculations suggest that the central government may introduce a resolution for this purpose during a special session, potentially amending Article 1 of the Constitution. This process alone could take a minimum of three days – one for each step: passing the bill in the Lok Sabha, passing it in the Rajya Sabha, and securing the President’s signature.

Renaming India: A Three-Day Transformation, but Parliamentary Hurdles Loom

However, an alternative route exists. The cabinet secretary can issue a notification directing states to use ‘Bharat’ in official work, though this may be subject to legal challenges. Ultimately, a constitutional amendment appears to be the most proper course of action.

Leading experts in the field, including former Law Commission Chairman BS Chauhan, former Law Minister Ashwini Kumar, and constitutional expert PDT Achari, provide insights into this complex matter.

Qu: What is the process for renaming the country to India?

Answer: The Law Ministry would draft the Constitution Amendment Bill, which the central government would present in a parliamentary session. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha would debate and vote on the bill, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage in both houses. The bill would then be sent to the President for approval, followed by publication in the Gazette of India. The change would become effective upon publication.

Qu: Is a majority required for the amendment?

Answer: Yes, a two-thirds majority is required in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to pass the amendment. This entails the support of 362 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 164 MPs in the Rajya Sabha.

Qu: What if the amendment is not passed in the Rajya Sabha?

Answer: The Constitution would not be amended. Passage in both houses is mandatory for implementation.

Qu: What other changes need to be made if the renaming occurs?

Answer: All laws containing the word ‘India’ would require amendments. This would necessitate changes in government records and documentation.

Qu: Do names of institutions like ISRO and IIT need to be changed?

Answer: There is no obligation to change such names. Historical examples, like Madras High Court in Chennai and Bombay High Court in Mumbai, show that institutions can retain their original names.

Qu: What if institutions want to change their names?

Answer: Institutions seeking name changes should submit proposals to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which would issue notifications. The revenue department would then initiate the necessary processes.

Qu: What will be the global impact of changing the name?

Answer: The change would impact the country’s international recognition. India is known worldwide as the Republic of India, and it has signed numerous treaties with other nations. Passports for citizens living abroad would need to be updated, and administrative changes within the country would also be necessary.

Qu: Is the recent use of ‘India’ in international correspondence constitutionally correct?

Answer: According to the constitution, English correspondence should use ‘President of India’ or ‘Prime Minister of India.’ In Hindi, it should be ‘President of India’ or ‘Prime Minister of India.’ Using ‘India’ alone in such correspondence might not align with constitutional norms.

Qu: What have Supreme Court decisions said about this matter?

Answer: In 2016, then CJI TS Thakur stated that ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ cannot be considered separately; both names hold equal importance. Justice SA Bobde also emphasized the phrase ‘India that is Bharat’ in the Constitution, suggesting that demanding the name ‘Bharat’ alone might not be appropriate.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that the potential cost of such a name change could reach Rs 14,304 crore, equivalent to 6% of the country’s revenue. This substantial expenditure is comparable to the cost of providing one month’s food grain to 80 crore people under food security. In the past, the proposal to rename the country to ‘Bharat’ was passed in the UP Assembly in 2004 when the BJP was in opposition, but the party had walked out before the decision.


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