The political row over proposal to refer to India as “Bharat” in NCERT textbooks snowballing, the man behind the proposal told NDTV today that it was only meant for students of CBSE and in classrooms. “At home they can say whatever,” retired Professor CI Issacs told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Mr Issacs is heading the Committee for Social Sciences, which made the recommendation that has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Amid Opposition attack, NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) has said no decision has been taken regarding the recommendations, made in response to move to revise the curriculum in line with the National Education Policy 2020.
Along with replacing the name “India” with “Bharat” in textbooks, the panel has also suggested introducing “classical history”, instead of “ancient history” and including “Indian Knowledge System” in the syllabus.
Asked why this change is needed at this point, Professor Issacs said they were not “removing” anything.
“Our mindset is toned by colonial education. Now it is a new education system. New chapter. Something new is needed, nothing traditional,” he said, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for an update in the country’s education policy.
Calling the change “essential”, he said it has the backing of a number of academicians who were not part of the committee.
Asked if the move does not open another Pandora’s box of opposition charges about politicization of education, Mr Issacs said, “We never think about election. None of my team are involved in politics. Five are ladies. Housewives”.
On why this had to be included in textbooks, he said it was for the teachers.
“Of course teachers will say India,” he said, pointing out that they were also products of colonial education, like himself, who also says India. The change, he said, can be effected in the textbooks of senior classes, starting from Class 8.
India and Bharat are names mentioned in the very first article of the Constitution. Asked why, in that case, it could not be left to individual choice, he said the rule is applicable only to CBSE students.
The Opposition has called the proposal an effort to “indoctrinate an entire generation”.
Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Manoj Jha has called it a “panic reaction to INDIA bloc”. “Article 1 of the Constitution says “India that is Bharat”. The people who framed it, Babasaheb Ambedkar. Nehru, Azad, Patel – they thought something?” he said. Then holding up a copy of the Constitution, he said, “Will this be the next target?”
“This is anti-people, anti-India. This is completely wrong. I appeal to government. You can’t change the history of India,” said Congress’s DK Shivakumar.
The Bharat-India controversy had started when the government sent out G20 invites in the name of “President of Bharat” instead of “President of India”. Later, the nameplate of PM Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi also read “Bharat”, instead of India.