Oppn terms ‘Bharat’ proposal for NCERT books ‘political gimmick’
NCERT panel on social sciences suggested that India be replaced by “Bharat” as the country’s name in school textbooks
New Delhi: The recommendation of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) panel on social sciences that have suggested in a position paper that India be replaced by “Bharat” as the country’s name in school textbooks evoked sharp responses from opposition parties, particularly those from the southern states, which called the move a “political gimmick” and an attempt to distort history.
To be sure, the recommendation is yet to be accepted by the NCERT; it said on Wednesday that the development of the new syllabus and texts “were in the process”, which is why various curricular area groups of domain experts had been notified, and at this stage it was too “premature to comment.”
Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said that the move was an election gimmick and the BJP had no sincerity for “Bharat or India.” “You can see how they are distorting history through textbooks, syllabus… But for us, India and Bharat are equal. They are purposefully doing this for the elections,” he said.
In Karnataka, deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar said that the word Indian was used for institutions like the Reserve Bank of India, Indian Administrative Service, and that the “Republic of India” was written on Indian passports. “Who is saying that we are not Bharatiyas, but we are also proud Indians. I think whatever stand they have taken is anti-people, anti-India and anti-Bharat,” Shivakumar said.
Shivakumar said that in Karnataka, a state where the government is working on a state education policy instead of the centrally formulated National Education Policy, “they would continue with whatever was there earlier.” “We will discuss in the cabinet. We will not change anything,” Shivakumar said.
DMK leader TKS Elangovan said that the government is trying to change the name only because the opposition had named their alliance Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). “This is out of fear. How can NCERT do this without amending the constitution?” he said.
In Kerala, CPM state secretary MV Govindan said the move is part of the BJP’s Hindutva project. “They don’t want people to study the history of the Mughals or the assassination of Gandhi,” he said.
Bharat Rashtra Samithi spokesman Dasoju Sravan said the decision to change the name of the country from India to Bharat in the NCERT textbooks was nothing but an attempt by the Narendra Modi government to cover up its failures.
“Narendra Modi was made as the Prime Minister of India to change the fate of people, but having failed to do so he’s indulging in changing names,” Sravan said.
Bengal education minister Bratya Basu said the “mythology” that the BJP propagates cannot become curriculum. “The name India has its origin in real history. It is apparent that the BJP is so scared of the INDIA coalition that it wants to remove the name even from textbooks,” he said.
There was however support for the proposal from BJP leaders from across states. BJP leader and Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said, “We have been hearing slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Vande Mataram’ from childhood. It is a matter of pride for us.”
Maharashtra education minister Deepak Vasant Kesarkar said, “Everything cannot be taught in the English language.” “It should not be that we are ashamed of using our mother tongue.”
Subhas Sarkar, Union minister of state for education and BJP MP from West Bengal, said, “It is just a proposal. NCERT has taken no decision on this. Some people are jumping at it because they have not yet shed their colonial mindsets.”