A recent proposal to replace the name "India" with "Bharat" in school textbooks has ignited a debate in India. The controversial recommendation, made by a panel from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), has stirred serious discussions about the country's historical and cultural identity.
The NCERT panel, comprised of seven members, unanimously approved the change, suggesting that "Bharat" should be used instead of "India" in upcoming textbooks. However, it is important to note that this recommendation is not yet final, as it awaits official approval.
The panel's recommendation was based on the idea that "Bharat" is an ancient name with deep historical roots, tracing back to texts like the Vishnu Purana, believed to be around 7,000 years old.
The name is derived from the Sanskrit language, found in scriptures, written about 2,000 years ago. It refers to an ambiguous territory, Bharatavarsa, which stretched beyond today’s borders of India and may have extended to include what is today, known as Indonesia.
In contrast, the term "India" gained common usage after the establishment of the East India Company and the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
The controversy surrounding the proposed name change escalated when President Droupadi Murmu was referred to as the "President of Bharat" in G20 dinner invitations, breaking from the convention of using "India." Additionally, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat publicly advocated for using "Bharat" instead of "India," and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi's nameplate at the G20 Summit displayed "Bharat" when he addressed world leaders.
The ancient name was used for the first time on an ASEAN event invitation extended to PM Modi referring to him as the “Prime Minister of Bharat”.
Article 1(1) of the Constitution states “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. During an interview with ANI, External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar said, “India, that is Bharat, is there in the Constitution. Please, I would invite everybody to read it.”
The panel's recommendations don't stop at the name change. They have also suggested modifying the school curriculum to reduce the emphasis on "Hindu defeats" in Indian history and include more information about victories over Mughals and Sultans. The panel has recommended introducing "classical history" in place of "ancient history" and teaching it alongside medieval and modern periods. The intention is to provide a more comprehensive view of India's history, emphasizing its accomplishments and achievements.
The NCERT's curriculum revision is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which aims to modernize the country's education system.
The proposed change has sparked reactions from political leaders, with differing opinions. While Congress leader Priyank Kharge criticized the move as a part of the government's "name-changing spree," others questioned the necessity of changing established names like "Reserve Bank of India" and "Indian Administrative Service."
This proposal highlights the ongoing debate about national identity and historical representation in India's educational materials, and the decision will likely have a significant impact on the future generations of students in the country. The ultimate decision rests with the authorities who will consider this recommendation in the coming months.
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