Home News How ‘India’ Made It To The Constitution In 1949

How ‘India’ Made It To The Constitution In 1949


Despite reservations, the original wording, “India, that is, Bharat…” stayed.

Days after President Droupadi Murmu’s dinner invite to G20 delegates came from “President of Bharat” instead of India, the controversy is continuinfg over the two nomenclatures. The Opposition has slammed the BJP-led government at the Centre, accusing it of rebranding India only for political reasons.

How India Got Its Name

Not many are aware that the name Bharat wasn’t in the first draft of the Indian Constitution when it was introduced by Dr B R Ambedkar, the Chairman of the drafting committee, on November 4, 1948. In fact, it wasn’t until a year later when the finalisation of the Constitution approached that the omission of the native name was underlined by many people.

Following this, on September 18, 1949, Dr. Ambedkar moved an amendment to draft Article 1, which read, “India, that is, Bharat shall be a Union of States.” The phraseology came under criticism from assembly member HV Kamath, who called it “clumsy and a constitutional error”.

Heated Debate And Alternatives

HV Kamath then offered two alternatives: “Bharat, or, in the English language, India, shall be a Union of States” or “Hind, or, in the English language, India, shall be a Union of States.” He said that the phrase “in the English language, India” was critical, for in many countries, the nation was still known as “Hindustan,” and its people were referred to as Hindus regardless of their faith.

A heated discussion ensued with several members of the Constituent Assembly registering their disapproval of the name India and arguing in favour of Bharat. For instance, Seth Govind Das from Jabalpur backed HV Kamath saying, “India, that is, Bharat” weren’t the most pleasing words for the name of a country, adding it should be, “Bharat known as India also in foreign countries”.

To draw his point home, HV Kamath referred to the Irish constitution and how the lawmakers named their country. “The Constitution of the Irish Free State reads: “The name of the State is Eire, or, in the English language, Ireland,” HV Kamath said.

While Seth Govind Das Das argued that Vishnu Purana and Brahma Purana mentioned Bharat, other members claimed that the seventh-century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang also called the country Bharat and not India. Many also said that India wasn’t an ancient word, unlike Bharat, which epitomised the history and culture of this civilisation.

Hargovind Pant, who represented the United Provinces, said that he failed to understand why the word ‘Bharat Varsha’ was not acceptable to the House when “the importance and glory of this word is being admitted by all here”.

The Vote

Despite reservations over the name, India, and some strong arguments favouring Bharat, HV Kamath’s amendment was rejected by a vote of 38 ayes to 51 noes. The original wording, “India, that is, Bharat shall be a Union of States,” stayed.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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