Why does a panel of experts want to change India to Bharat in NCERT textbooks?
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has established a panel of experts to review the school curriculum. These experts believe that a name holds significant importance. The panel recommends using the name ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in all social science textbooks up to Class 12. As well as introducing classical history and highlighting Hindu victories. it encourages the ‘Bharat’ vs ‘India’ argument. This panel, established to review the school curriculum, suggests the usage of ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in social science textbooks up to Class 12, along with the inclusion of classical history and the emphasis on Hindu victories. One significant proposal was to replace ‘India’ vs ‘Bharat’ in all references to the country, including maps and diagrams.
This recommendation has stirred a political controversy, with opposition parties accusing the government of violating the Constitution and pushing a Hindu nationalist agenda in education. The government, in contrast, defends the recommendation as a way to honor the country’s cultural heritage and identity.
The panel, comprising 12 members from various educational fields, was assembled by the NCERT in 2020 to review the existing curriculum framework and suggest updates to make it more relevant and contemporary.
In September 2023
The panel submitted its report, which included several suggestions for revising social science textbooks. One significant proposal was to replace ‘India’ vs ‘Bharat’ in all references to the country, including maps and diagrams. The panel argued that ‘Bharat’ better reflects the nation’s ancient and historical roots. It is more inclusive and respectful of its diversity.
Additionally, the panel recommended the inclusion of more chapters on classical history, covering periods. They also proposed emphasizing Hindu victories over foreign invaders, including battles like Panipat, Haldighati, and Plassey.
This article will explore the arguments both in favor and against the use of ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’. As well as the implications of this issue for the quality and standards of education in the country.
Some of the arguments for and against the name change in textbooks are:
- The term “Bharat” is an ancient and indigenous name, according to the name change proponents, and it is mentioned in a number of ancient books, including the 7,000-year-old Vishnu Purana. They claim that the name ‘Bharat’ reflects the country’s cultural heritage and identity and that it is more appropriate than the name ‘India’, which is derived from the Greek word ‘Indos’ or the Persian word ‘Hindu’, both of which refer to the river Indus.
- Furthermore, citing Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, which declares that “India, that is, Bharat, shall be a Union of States,” they contend that the word “Bharat” is constitutional. They say that using ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in textbooks would not violate the Constitution, but rather honour it.
- They also contend that using ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in textbooks would not affect the academic quality and standards of education, but rather enhance them. They say that using ‘Bharat’ would introduce students to the classical history and literature of the country, and highlight the achievements and contributions of Hindu civilization. They say that using ‘Bharat’ would also instil a sense of pride and patriotism among students, and inspire them to learn more about their country.
- The opponents of the name change argue that the name ‘India’ is a historical and constitutional term that reflects the diversity and unity of the country and that changing it to ‘Bharat’ would undermine its secular and democratic character. They claim that the name ‘India’ is not a foreign imposition, but a self-chosen name that has been used by various leaders and movements in the past, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, and the Indian National Congress.
- They also argue that the name ‘Bharat’ is not a constitutional term, but a political one. They say that using ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in textbooks would violate Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression. They contend that Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which protects the right to free speech and expression, would be violated if textbooks included the word “Bharat” rather than “India.”
- They also contend that using ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in textbooks would affect the academic quality and standards of education, and lower them. They say that using ‘Bharat’ would distort the history and geography of the country, and present a biased and selective view of its past. They say that using ‘Bharat’ would also create confusion and inconsistency among students, teachers, and scholars, and hamper their communication and collaboration with other countries.
The recommendation to use the name ‘Bharat’ instead of ‘India’ in textbooks has sparked a political controversy. Supporters argue that it honours cultural heritage, while opponents claim it violates the Constitution and undermines the secular and democratic nature of the country. We should keep in mind that it’s still a proposal and will need deliberations to reach a consensus