Kerala CM criticises NCERT panel's recommendation; urges people to safeguard essence of 'India'

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accused the NCERT of continuously favouring the Sangh Parivar attempts to distort history.

Kerala CM criticises NCERT panel's recommendation; urges people to safeguard essence of 'India' Kerala chief minister and education minister opposed the recent proposal of NCERT to replace 'India' with 'Bharat' in textbooks. (Image: Official X account)
Press Trust of India | Oct 26, 2023 - 8:59 p.m. IST
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THIRUVANATHAPURAM: The NCERT panel's recommendation to replace "India" with "Bharat" in school textbooks cannot be accepted, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Thursday and urged all citizens to unite and safeguard the essence of 'India".

He said the present recommendation could be seen only as a continuation of the recent arbitrary exclusion of portions including Mughal history and the banning of the RSS following Gandhi's assassination from textbooks. The politics behind the move are as clear as day, he said.

In a statement, the Left veteran accused the NCERT of continuously favouring the Sangh Parivar attempts to distort history. Now, the high-level committee for social sciences appointed by the NCERT was showing keenness to "whitewash the fake history created by the Sangh", the CM alleged.

"The recent proposal by NCERT to replace 'India' with 'Bharat' in textbooks is not acceptable. Our Constitution recognises both names, and this change appears to be another step in the Sangh Parivar's ongoing effort to impose their divisive communalism in our educational institutions and curriculum," Vijayan said in his X handle.

He further alleged that the Sangh Parivar is scared of the politics of inclusion represented by the term 'India', and their aversion to the word is part of that. Vijayan charged that the Sangh has always been against the idea of "India" based on pluralism and coexistence.

Also Read | ‘No difference between India and Bharat, there is mindless controversy’: Dharmendra Pradhan

NCERT's recommendation

The NCERT panel's recommendation was the latest example of this, the CM claimed. "As per the decision of NCERT's Committee on Social Science, the word 'India' should be changed to 'Bharat' in the textbooks of the academic branch. The Constitution refers to our nation as both India and Bharat. "The politics behind avoiding India in it is as clear as daylight. The Sangh Parivar fears the inclusive politics represented by the phenomenon called India. The hatred against the word India is part of this", he said.

Vijayan urged all citizens to unite and safeguard the essence of 'India', a nation founded on the principles of unity in diversity. "Let's celebrate our diverse heritage and embrace our pluralistic identity with pride," Vijayan said, a day after a high-level committee for social sciences, appointed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to revise the school curriculum, recommended the replacement of "India" with "Bharat" in textbooks for all classes nationwide.

Also Read | ‘Too premature to comment’, responds NCERT on renaming India as Bharat in textbooks

'Hidden agenda'

Earlier in the day, General Education Minister V Sivankutty also came out against the recommendation for the name change and alleged that this was a form of "parochial politics" with a hidden agenda, something the southern state could not accept under any circumstances.

Addressing a press conference in Kollam, Sivankutty stated that the state would reject the panel's recommendation to change the country's name. He asserted that there was a deliberate effort to "saffronise" the entire curriculum, denying the new generation the opportunity to learn the authentic history of the country. Sivankutty alleged that this national-level curriculum revision was incompatible with democratic values.

"Every citizen has the right to use India or Bharat as mentioned in the Constitution," he pointed out. Asking to use only "Bharat" in the textbook was with a "hidden agenda and parochial politics," and Kerala cannot accept it, he said while explaining the government's stand. In a federal country, the opinion of states should also have been sought before taking significant decisions, but it is not happening in India now, the Minister alleged.

He recalled that Kerala had responded "academically" when a similar attempt to "distort history" took place at the national level during a previous curriculum revision. Citing figures, he said that out of the 33 crore children of school-going age, only 25 crore actually attend educational institutions.

The remaining are not in school for various reasons. As a progressive society, Kerala bears the responsibility to expose attempts to evade such critical issues, Sivanakutty said. The minister further said that since education is a subject on the concurrent list of the Constitution, the state has the right to take its own decision in that area. If the NCERT intends to give children, through its textbooks, content that is 'unconstitutional, unscientific, and a distortion of real history,' Kerala would defend it by raising academic debates, he said.

Also Read | ‘Efforts in the name of new curriculum framework against democratic values’: Kerala Education Minister

State curriculum

The government would also convene the State Curriculum Committee and discuss in detail the work of preparing all the textbooks for the 11th and 12th standards in the state itself. At present, the state is using 44 out of the total 120 textbooks published by the NCERT in these classes.

Responding to a question, the minister said further action would be decided after getting more details on the issue and consulting with CM Vijayan. CPI (M) state secretary M V Govindan also strongly criticised the BJP-led central government over the NCERT"s recommendation to replace 'India' with 'Bharat' and said the attempt was to indoctrinate a generation by teaching 'distorted history'.

He accused the Centre of trying to change the country's name to Bharat as the opposition front was named "INDIA". According to NCERT high level committee chairperson C I Isaac, the panel has suggested replacing the name "India" with "Bharat" in the textbooks, introducing "classical history", instead of "ancient history", in the curriculum, and including the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) in the syllabus for all subjects. NCERT Chairman Dinesh Saklani, however, said no decision has been taken yet on the panel's recommendations.

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