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‘President Of Bharat’ sparks row: India might have to pay Rs 14,000 crore to change its name

In preparation for the G20 Summit 2023 in New Delhi later this week, President Droupadi Murmu sent out formal G20 dinner invitations using the name ‘President of Bharat’ instead of President of India, as is customary.

Unsurprisingly, the Opposition has cried out, with Congress leader Jairam Ramesh saying Article 1 is being threatened. The Indian Constitution states that India (Bharat) is a ‘Union of States’ in Article 1.

Assam Chief Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sharma posted on X, “REPUBLIC OF BHARAT – happy and proud that our civilisation is marching ahead boldly towards AMRIT KAAL.” The President’s new designation may signal more changes in the coming weeks. This makes many question how much the country will pay to alter its name.

Several sources suggest that the forthcoming Parliament special session would consider renaming India Bharat. On August 31, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi scheduled a September 18–22 extraordinary session of Parliament.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat later announced that the extraordinary session will skip question hour, zero hour, and private members’ business, drawing opposition criticism.

The Centre’s proposal to rename the nation Bharat will be perceived as a political jab at the Opposition parties that have united behind INDIA. In the 2024 General Elections, 26 parties will form the opposition coalition Indian National Developmental Inclusive coalition (I.N.D.I.A).

As the federal government is expected to approve the renaming resolution shortly, the expenses should be considered. Even if numerous Indian cities and villages have been renamed recently, renaming a country of 1.4 billion people would be costly.

Renaming a country or province may appear trivial, yet it entails hyperlocal, district, state, national, and worldwide changes. This makes it time-consuming and expensive, requiring collaboration from public and private authorities and perceptual adjustment from citizens.

For India, the world’s most populated and most diversified nation with a multitude of cultures, languages, and ethnicities, such an activity will be multifold.

Maharashtra’s Aurangabad was renamed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar this year. Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s Osmanabad became Dharashiv.

The Haryana state government renamed Gurgaon Gurugram in 2016. Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, became Prayagraj in 2018. India Today claimed that government finance department officials estimated that renaming Allahabad cost the state government upwards of Rs 300 crore.

Updating maps, road navigation systems, highway markers, state and civic authority office accoutrements, etc. would cost money. In addition, individual firms, corporate houses, and non-governmental organisations in the city or state that changes its name must pay.

The Cost of Renaming India Bharat

India is not the first to explore renaming. Such adjustments have occurred worldwide to improve administrative efficiency, remove colonial relics, or mark a regime transition.

Sri Lanka changed its name in 1972, but it took nearly four decades to remove the word “Ceylon” from government use.

The queen of Swaziland renamed the nation Eswatini in 2018 to remove colonial associations. South African intellectual property lawyer developed a way to determine the cost of renaming a nation. Darren Olivier assessed the cost by comparing the African nation’s name to a huge business rebranding.

Olivier estimates that major companies spend 6% of their sales on marketing. Rebranding might consume 10% of the company’s marketing expenditure. He estimated renaming Swaziland to Eswatini would cost $60 million.
The cost estimate uses Darren Olivier’s approach, which equates nation renaming to business rebranding.

If India uses a similar methodology, the expense is high. India earned Rs 23.84 lakh crore in tax and non-tax income in 2023. Olivier’s calculation for Swaziland’s renaming cost incorporated both revenue streams.

The similar method with India’s earnings yields an estimated Rs 14,304 crore to rename India to Bharat. For context, the Centre spends Rs 14,000 crore each month on its food security program that feeds 80 crore Indians.

The approaching Parliament extraordinary session will reveal whether the federal administration is serious about name changing. As of today, international leaders will attend the G20 official dinner with the Indian president.

The G20 Summit, held September 9-10 at the Bharat Mandapam in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, will include 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.

Newsdesk

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