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NCERT Panel Recommends Replacing ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ in Textbooks

Photo: Nikita S/Unsplash

A committee set up to revise the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) textbooks has suggested replacing the term “India” with “Bharat” in all social science textbooks up to Class 12.

The committee, chaired by C I Isaac, a historian and Padma Shri awardee, has also proposed several other changes to the curriculum, sparking both support and criticism.

Isaac, the committee chairperson, while talking to The New Indian Express said, “It was a unanimous decision of all the members to replace the name from ‘India’ to ‘Bharat’ in the textbooks for students across classes.”

The committee’s recommendations also include introducing ‘classical history’ instead of ‘ancient history’ in the curriculum and incorporating the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) into the syllabus for all subjects.

Furthermore, the committee has suggested the highlighting of ‘Hindu victories’ in various battles in the textbooks. Isaac said, “Our failures are presently mentioned in the textbooks. But our victories over the Mughals and sultans are not.”

The name “Bharat” holds historical significance, according to Isaac, who stated, “Bharat is an age-old name and has been used in ancient texts, such as Vishnu Purana, which is 7,000 years old. The name India came much later with the invasion of Turks, Afghans, and Greeks. Kalidasa used the name, Bharat.”

‘Bharat’ was officially used when the central government sent out G20 invites in the name of “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India.” During the G20 summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nameplate read “Bharat” instead of India.

Isaac, a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), said that there is a need to revisit how Indian history is taught in schools. He said, “The British had divided Indian history into three phases – ancient, medieval, and modern – showing India in darkness, unaware of scientific knowledge and progress. Therefore, we have suggested that the classical period of Indian history be taught in schools, along with medieval and modern periods.”

However, Dinesh Saklani, the NCERT Chairman, said that no decision has been taken yet on implementing the panel’s recommendations. “Since the development of new syllabus and textbooks is in the process… it is too premature to comment,” he said.

The NCERT is currently revising the curriculum of school textbooks to align with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and a 19-member National Syllabus and Teaching Learning Material Committee (NSTC) has been constituted to finalize the curriculum and textbooks for these classes.

These recommendations have received mixed reactions. While some have supported the move, opposition parties have criticized it.

Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal expressed concern, saying, “They are suggesting so many things. You can see how they are distorting the history of India through the textbook, syllabus, and everything…For us, India and Bharat are equal.” AAP leader Priyanka Kakkar suggested that instead of changing names, the government should focus on issues like joblessness, inflation, and corruption.

DMK spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai accused the BJP of using name-change politics to divert attention from its misdeeds and maladministration.

Congress leader Jignesh Mevani said that the move was disrespectful towards the Indian Constitution, in which ‘India, that is, Bharat’ is written, and that both terms can be used interchangeably.

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