Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have used last week’s G-20 meeting to try out a new name for his country.
Instead of the country’s current name, the Hindi word for India, Bharat, appeared on the Prime Minister’s nameplate, banquet invitations and brochures. And a booklet distributed to guests was titled “Bharat: The Mother of Democracy.”
When a country discards facets of its culture, heritage, and history by going to the extreme of changing its name, there is usually something going on. In India’s case, that something is
growing Hindu nationalism, encouraged by Modi and his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (Hindi for “Indian People’s Party”). Modi and the BJP have been in power for 9 years, to the detriment of Muslims and other minorities.
Why would Modi want to change the name at this particular time? That’s where ARGENTINA comes in. Well, its name anyway, at the start of the Alphabet.
The Washington Post today speculated about just that: “With the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa set to expand and add, among other nations, Argentina and Egypt, perhaps Modi was hoping that switching to Bharat might reserve a place for India near the head of the alphabetical pecking order.
“Besides appealing to his Hindu nationalist base, the prime minister also appears driven by a combination of pique and blatant political expediency before elections due by next May. More than two dozen opposition partiesannounced in July that they were joining forces to try to oust Modi’s BJP at the polls. The new alliance calls itself the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. Its not-coincidentally-convenient acronym: INDIA.
Playing up the acronym, the opposition cast the coming elections as a test of “Modi versus INDIA.” Modi responded by comparing the alliance to the 19th-century East India Tea Company, which was responsible for colonizing the country.”