NCERT panel advises textbooks to just include “Bharat.”

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) established a high-level committee to review the social sciences curriculum for schools. The committee’s recommendation to replace the word “India” in school textbooks with the word “Bharat” infuriated opposition politicians. The NCERT clarified that the panel’s suggestions had not yet been adopted and that it was “too premature” to make any comments at this time.

C.I. Isaac, a retired history professor with decades of intimate ties to Sangh Parivar institutions, is the panel’s chairman. In a report that was turned in to NCERT earlier this year, the group unanimously suggested, he told reporters on Wednesday, that the nation’s name be called “Bharat” rather than “India” in all primary through high school textbooks.

Mr. Issac, 71, received the Padma Shri this year. He is a retired history professor from CMS College in Kottayam and a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). He has long been involved with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student branch of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Currently, he is the head of the right-wing think tank Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram.

Unanimous recommendation

The chair of the Indian Council of Scientific Research (ICHR), Raguvendra Tanwar, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and archaeologist Vasant Shinde, a former vice-chancellor of Deccan College Deemed University, were among the other members of the NCERT committee.

Prof. Shinde verified the suggestion to substitute “Bharat” for “India” and informed The Hindu that the group had presented its proposal to the NCERT four months prior. Referencing the Hindu Vishnu Purana, he argued that the term “Bharat” was a more fitting moniker for the nation.

“All the members in the panel have agreed to replacing India with Bharat,” Prof. Shinde said.

A high-level committee set up by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to revise the social sciences curriculum for schools has recommended that the country’s name, ‘India’, be replaced in school textbooks with the word ‘Bharat’, triggering outrage among Opposition politicians. Clarifying that the panel’s recommendations have not been approved yet, the NCERT said that it was “too premature” to comment on the issue.

The panel is headed by C.I. Issac, a retired history professor who has been closely associated with Sangh Parivar institutions for several decades. He told journalists on Wednesday that the panel had unanimously recommended, in its report submitted to NCERT earlier this year, that the country’s name should be referred to as ‘Bharat’ and not ‘India’ in all school textbooks, from the primary to high-school level.

Mr. Issac, 71, who was awarded the Padma Shri this year, is a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), and retired from the History department at Kottayam’s CMS College. He is a long-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, and currently heads the Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram, a right-wing think-tank.

Unanimous recommendation

Other members of the NCERT committee included ICHR chairperson Raguvendra Tanwar, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Vandana Mishra, and archaeologist Vasant Shinde, a former Vice-Chancellor of Deccan College Deemed University.

Prof. Shinde told The Hindu that the committee had submitted its proposal to the NCERT four months ago, and confirmed the recommendation to replace ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’. Citing the Vishnu Purana, a Hindu text, he maintained that ‘Bharat’ was a better name for the country.

“All the members in the panel have agreed to replacing India with Bharat,” Prof. Shinde said.

The panel also proposed that text books should give equal space to all dynasties that ruled India, rather than being confined to one or two dynasties. “We have also recommended to include new discoveries that keep happening in the country, in the syllabus. These discoveries may be historical, archaeological among others,” Prof. Shinde added.

Premature to comment: NCERT

NCERT said that the process of syllabus development was still ongoing. “On the news in media being flashed about changing the name of ‘India’ into ‘Bharat’ in all NCERT textbooks, NCERT states that since the development of new syllabus and textbooks is in the process and for that purpose various Curricular Area Groups of domain experts are being notified by the NCERT. So, it is too premature to comment on the news being flashed in the media on the concerned issue,” NCERT posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Article 1 of the Constitution says, “India, that is Bharat, shall be Union of States.”

Rashtrapati Bhawan extended invites for a G-20 luncheon on September 9 on behalf of the “President of Bharat,” which gave rise to the India-Bharat dispute last month. The usage of the word Bharat in English has been condemned by opposition political parties, as it has been a long-standing desire of the RSS.

Since its formation in 1925, the RSS has been using ‘Bharat’ as the name of the country. “Our country has been known as ‘Bharat’ for ages. Whatever may be the language, the name remains the same. We don’t have to think about whether anyone outside will understand this or not. If they want to, they will, but that is not our problem,” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said last month.

‘Distorting history’

Opposition parties slammed the NCERT panel’s recommendations. ”They are suggesting so many things. You can see how they are distorting the history of India through the textbook, syllabus, and everything… I didn’t know about the India-Bharat thing… For us, ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ are equal… This is not coming from your heart,” said senior Congress leader K.C. Venugopal.

The panel’s suggestion was deemed “wrong” by Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who claimed that the NDA administration had coerced the NCERT into making the “decision.”

Manoj Jha, a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, stated that the proposal to change the name was a frantic and fearful response to the opposition alliance, which goes by the abbreviation INDIA, which stands for the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance.

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