NCERT panel suggests only ‘Bharat’ in textbooks

The panel, headed by an RSS sympathiser, recommended that equal space be given in the history syllabus to all dynasties that ruled India, adding that new discoveries must be included

October 25, 2023 05:38 pm | Updated October 26, 2023 11:16 am IST - New Delhi

National Council of Educational Research and Training building in New Delhi. Photo:

National Council of Educational Research and Training building in New Delhi. Photo:

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.”

The India-Bharat row gained momentum last month when Rashtrapati Bhawan sent out invitations for a G-20 dinner on September 9 on behalf of the ‘President of Bharat’. Opposition political parties had criticised the use of the name Bharat in English, which has been a long pending demand 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.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar termed the panel’s recommendation as “wrong”, alleging that the NDA government had forced the NCERT to take the “decision”.

Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha said that the name change suggestion was a panicked and hysterical reaction to the Opposition alliance, whose acronym is INDIA, standing for the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance.

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