• Swadheen Sharma

INDIA vs BHARAT: How did they become different?


The country that got its independence after 190 years of invasion and rule by foreign countries, India is still in the stranglehold of internal differences that now fall under the umbrella of modernization and culture, thus focusing on the big divide in India and Bharat. It is interesting to note that the origin of both these names is more inclined towards cultural and geographical aspects and yet seen so differently by people, politicians, and religious organizations.


The name Bharat comes from the name of Chakravarti Samrat Bharat, the ancient brave king of the land and son of King Dushyant & Queen Shakuntala. Vishnu Puran mentions the territorial boundaries of the country as


“Uttaram yat yamudrasya himade shachaiva dakshinam. Varsham tadu Bharatam nama Bharato yatra santatih.” That means the country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharat.”


The name India is derived from the river 'Sindhu' or Indus as called by the ancient Greeks. S from Bharat became I in the west, hence Sindhu became Indus. And the land of Indus was called Indica or India.


India has a population of 1.2 Billion, it is recognized as the world’s biggest democracy, the most secular country one can be in. Yet the Hindu religion dominates it. Anything that does not abide by the strict moral compass of some Hindus (Please note that the keyword here is some. We respect all religions and understand that it is only a handful of people who use religion as an excuse for moral policing) are shamed and deemed too “modern” for India. They create the divide and more often than not, this is aimed at minorities and marginalized societies. 


First, let's talk about what separates India from Bharat. 

According to people, Bharat is a land of gods, where people have strong religious sentiments, noticeable by the worship of various gods. People who consider themselves as part of Bharat are more inclined towards cultural aspects of society. But also, a majority of these people belong to rural areas, who haven’t been as exposed to the digital world, education, employment opportunities, etc. They call themselves ‘Bhartiya nagrik’. Bharat reflects ‘culture’ and ‘ethic’. They do not tend to accept people from India because according to them they are far removed from culture and don’t believe in any religion. That they have been “influenced by ‘foreign culture’ and their rules and regulation”. They consider it to be one of the aftereffects of the British rule over India.


India, on the other hand, is more modernized. The thinking of people is more open, more practical. Religious practices exist but the stereotypical stigma attached to them does not. Cast-based conflicts are fewer as compared to Bharat. There is a sense of unity among those who are considered to be part of India. There are no such big differences between Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christians, etc. India in some ways reflects western culture with rapid technological change, but where does it say that being modern takes away your religious beliefs and ethics?

Looking through the historic lens of the orthodox thinking of the so-called Bharat will help us realized the importance of modernization and practical thinking to certain sensitive topics.


First, the Roop Kanwar sati case that leads to nationwide protests to stop this religious practice. People who call themselves part of Bharat were supporters of the inhuman ritual to burn a widow alive on her husband's pyre. The protest was led by various feminist leaders and educated women. According to these people, the protesters with their modern thoughts conflict with a holy ritual of the Hindu religion. And thus, influenced by Western culture.  


Second, with regards to Queer history in India, we all know that Article 377 was decriminalized in 2018. The article was described as the criminalization of ‘unnatural offences' and said whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

but it does not mean homosexuality didn’t exist before that. When in the early 20th Century, the movement started to take rise, the so-called Bhartiya nagrik considered homosexuality a disease that was left by foreign invaders and is a western concept that can’t be accepted in Bhartiya society. And they were also supported by political parties in power who believed that it is against the culture and ethics of the society that has been pure for decades now. Queer people were denied their basic right of loving freely because Bharat did not agree.


Third, people from Bharat look at Indians as atheists, who are left with no ethics and are completely under the influence of western culture. And yet when it comes to political rallies and protests around the country, these same leaders go and bribe these “uncultured brats” for their benefits.


The crack between Bharat and India keeps growing longer and thicker with time. This is not to say that Bharat is the cause of this divide, India has also looked down upon Bharat, considering it disconnected to the modern world and “rural” with all of the word’s negative connotations. The point now is not to place the blame but to come up with a solution. This divide will never be eliminated and that is just something that has to be accepted by us all. But we need to bridge the gap as much as we can, open up lines of communication. We are the country that fell to invaders in the bouts of our internal superiority struggle and we are the same country that celebrated freedom as brothers when we fought like brothers high time we realize that we are a nation of over 2 billion people and our collective strength will make us invincible, let’s not let small cultural differences hold us back.


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