KOLLAM: The Left government in Kerala on Thursday strongly opposed the NCERT panel's suggestion to replace "India" with "Bharat" in school textbooks.
The CPI(M)-led dispensation alleged that this was a form of "parochial politics" with a hidden agenda, something the southern state could not accept under any circumstances.
A high-level committee for social sciences, appointed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to revise the school curriculum, has recommended the replacement of "India" with "Bharat" in textbooks for all classes nationwide.
Addressing a press conference, state Education Minister V 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 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 make its own decisions 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.
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 Chief Minister Pinarayi 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.