Controversy Surrounds Proposal to Replace “India” with “Bharat” in School Textbooks

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In a move that has ignited a debate on cultural and historical identity, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has recommended replacing the term “India” with “Bharat” in all school textbooks. While the proposal has been unanimously approved by the NCERT panel members, it is important to note that this change remains a recommendation and has not yet received final approval.

The idea behind this significant linguistic shift is to restore the historical and cultural significance of the name “Bharat.” Proponents of the change argue that “Bharat” is deeply rooted in ancient texts like the Vishnu Purana, dating back 7,000 years, while the common use of the term “India” only gained prominence with the establishment of the East India Company and the Battle of Plassey in 1757.

Should the recommendation be accepted, school textbooks will start using the name “Bharat” instead of “India.” This change is expected to find its way into the next set of textbooks to be printed, impacting students’ understanding of their own country’s identity.

The proposal to rename “India” as “Bharat” has triggered discussions and debate across the country. While some view it as a significant step in preserving cultural heritage and historical roots, others have expressed concerns and questions about the motivations and implications of this change.

The controversy surrounding this shift in nomenclature emerged after invites to the G20 dinner, hosted by President Droupadi Murmu, referred to her as the “President of Bharat” instead of “India,” which had been the conventional practice. This shift was followed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for using the name “Bharat” over “India.”

During the recent G20 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nameplate displayed “Bharat” as he addressed world leaders, and it was first used on an ASEAN event invitation that referred to him as the “Prime Minister of Bharat.” The constitutional reference, Article 1(1), also states that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

In addition to the name change recommendation, the NCERT panel has also suggested a reduction in the focus on “Hindu defeats” in the school curriculum. The committee believes that the current curriculum places undue emphasis on battles where Hindus were defeated and seeks to balance this with a more comprehensive historical perspective that includes Hindu victories over the Mughals and Sultans.

Furthermore, the NCERT committee has proposed the introduction of “classical history” to replace “ancient history” for students. This shift aims to highlight India’s scientific knowledge and progress from ancient times, countering historical narratives that portrayed India as lacking in scientific advancements.

The recommendations made by the NCERT panel, if accepted, will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the content of school textbooks and the way history, culture, and identity are taught to future generations. However, the final decision on these recommendations remains pending, as discussions and deliberations continue among various stakeholders and members of the education community.

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