NCERT’s Bold Recommendations: Replacing ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ in School Textbooks

In a significant move that may reshape how history and identity are taught in Indian schools, a high-level panel for social sciences, appointed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), has recommended replacing the name ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ in textbooks designed for students in classes 5 through 12. This striking proposal is part of a broader initiative to revamp the educational curriculum and align it with the National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020.

Championing ‘Bharat’ Over ‘India’

The committee, chaired by CI Issac, boldly suggests that textbooks should uniformly refer to the nation as ‘Bharat.’ While this proposal has not yet received official approval, it has ignited considerable debate and discussion. It represents a bold step towards asserting the importance of ‘Bharat’ as a name with deep cultural and historical significance.

Redefining History: From ‘Ancient’ to ‘Classical’

Another notable recommendation from the panel is substituting the term ‘ancient history’ with ‘classical history’ in school curricula. This shift in terminology is intended to emphasize India’s rich and enduring heritage and the contributions it has made to civilization over the ages. It underscores the idea that ‘classical history’ better encapsulates the enduring relevance of India’s past.

Incorporating Indian Knowledge System across Subjects

The committee advocates for including the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) in the syllabus for all subjects. This move seeks to acknowledge the wisdom and traditional knowledge systems integral to Indian culture. By integrating IKS into various subjects, students will better understand India’s diverse heritage and its contribution to the world.

A Renewed Focus on ‘Hindu Victories’

In addition to these recommendations, the panel also calls for reevaluating how Indian history is presented in textbooks. They propose a more comprehensive examination of India’s victories in various battles, specifically highlighting “Hindu victories.” The committee contends that while historical failures are currently mentioned in textbooks, triumphs over the Mughals and sultans are often neglected. This shift aims to give students a balanced perspective on India’s past, where both triumphs and setbacks are recognized.

Controversy Surrounding the Recommendations

Unsurprisingly, these recommendations have not been without controversy. The proposal to replace ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ has faced strong opposition, with critics arguing that it might be an unnecessary diversion from established nomenclature. However, proponents of the change believe it is a step towards reasserting the cultural identity of ‘Bharat’ and recognizing the country’s rich heritage that predates the colonial era.

The Educational Overhaul and National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

The NCERT is in the midst of a comprehensive revision of the school curriculum to align with the National Education Policy of 2020. To accomplish this monumental task, the council recently established the National Syllabus and Teaching Learning Material Committee (NSTC), comprising experts in the field of education. This committee is responsible for shaping the curriculum, designing textbooks, and creating educational materials for students in classes 5 through 12.

The Members behind the Recommendations

The committee, chaired by CI Issac, boasts a team of accomplished scholars and experts. Among the members are Raghuvendra Tanwar, Chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Vandana Mishra, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Vasant Shinde, former vice-chancellor of the Deccan College Deemed University, and Mamta Yadav, a sociology teacher in a Haryana government school. Their collective expertise and diverse perspectives have contributed to the bold recommendations that may reshape how Indian students perceive their nation’s identity and history.

The Controversy over ‘Bharat’ vs. ‘India’

The controversy surrounding the proposal to replace ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’ has garnered significant attention. Critics argue that such a change may be more about symbolism than substance, questioning the need for a name shift when ‘India’ has long been an accepted global reference. However, proponents argue that ‘Bharat’ carries deeper cultural and historical connotations, and this recommendation aims to emphasize India’s rich heritage that predates the colonial era. While the debate continues, it is essential to recognize the broader context of these changes within the framework of the NEP 2020.

The NEP 2020’s Impact on Education

The NEP 2020, a landmark policy initiative, seeks to bring a transformative shift in the Indian education system. It advocates for a more holistic and multidisciplinary approach to learning. It aims to foster a deeper understanding of India’s history, culture, and values. The current revisions to the curriculum are intended to align with these overarching objectives, with the ‘Bharat’ recommendation being one notable facet of this comprehensive reform.

The Road Ahead

These recommendations remain in the proposal stage, awaiting official approval and a comprehensive evaluation. While they may be controversial and subject to heated debate, they represent a significant step towards redefining how students in India perceive their national identity and historical heritage. Whether ‘Bharat’ will replace ‘India’ in textbooks or if ‘classical history’ will take the place of ‘ancient history,’ these recommendations signal a broader effort to create a more culturally rooted, inclusive, and balanced education system in India.

In the coming months and years, these recommendations, if adopted, will likely shape the content of textbooks and the way students engage with their nation’s history and cultural identity. In the midst of these changes, it is essential to recognize the value of a nuanced understanding of history and identity, which can empower future generations with a comprehensive perspective on India’s past and present.


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