Modi gov’t replaces country’s name with Bharat in G20 dinner invite: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has replaced the name India with a Sanskrit word in dinner invitations sent to guests attending this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, triggering speculation that the name of the country will be officially changed.

Droupadi Murmu is referred to as “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India” in the invitation sent to G20 attendees on Tuesday.

India is hosting the annual G20 summit in New Delhi on Saturday and Sunday. Many world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, will attend.

The nation of more than 1.4 billion people is officially known by two names, India and Bharat, but the former is most commonly used, both domestically and internationally. Hindustan is another word for the nation and is often used in literature and other forms of popular culture.

Bharat is an ancient Sanskrit word that many historians believe dates back to early Hindu texts. The word is also used as a Hindi option for India.

Officials of Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) back the change in nomenclature. They argue that the name India was introduced by British colonials and is a “symbol of slavery”. The British ruled India for about 200 years until the country gained independence in 1947.

The BJP has long tried to erase names related to India’s Mughal and colonial past. The government has been accused of pursuing a nationalist agenda aimed at forming an ethnic Hindu state out of a constitutionally secular India.

In 2015, New Delhi’s famous Aurangzeb Road, named after a Mughal king, was changed to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road after protests from Modi’s party leaders.

Last year, the government also renamed a colonial-era avenue in the heart of New Delhi that is used for ceremonial military parades.

Modi’s government says the name changes are an effort to reclaim India’s Hindu past.

“Another blow to slavery mentality,” the top elected official of Uttarakhand state, Pushkar Singh Dhami, said on X. Dhami, a BJP leader, shared the G20 dinner invitation in his post.

India’s opposition parties, however, criticised the government’s move.

“Rashtrapati Bhawan [President’s House] has sent out an invite for a G20 dinner on Sept 9th in the name of ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the usual ‘President of India’,” Jairam Ramesh, leader of the main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, wrote on Tuesday on X, formerly known as Twitter.