The National Council of Educational Research and Training, which is currently aligning school textbooks with the National Education Policy, will put in its best effort to encourage the use of “Bharatiya bhasha”, or Indian languages, the Union education ministry said on Wednesday.

The statement in Parliament came in response to questions posed by the Communist Party of India’s leaders P Sandosh Kumar and Elamaram Kareem in the Rajya Sabha.

The MPs had asked if the central government had received any recommendation from a high-level committee set up by the Council to replace “India” with “Bharat” in textbooks. They also asked what actions the government was taking on any such recommendations and the rationale behind the decisions.

Annapurna Devi, the minister of state for education, said that the Constitution recognises both “India” and “Bharat” as the official names of the country and can be used interchangeably.

“The NCERT duly acknowledges this spirit as enshrined in our Constitution and does not differentiate between the two,” said Devi. “As we collectively move away from the colonial mindset and encourage the usage of the words in Bhartiya bhasha [Indian languages], NCERT, an autonomous body under the aegis of Ministry of Education involved in preparation of school curriculum and textbooks, will also do its best in furthering the same.”

In October, the Council’s seven-member panel on social sciences had recommended replacing “India” with “Bharat” in school textbooks.

Suggestions to replace “ancient history” with “classical history” in the curriculum and to include the “Indian Knowledge System” in the syllabus for all subjects had also been made, the committee’s chairperson CI Isaac had said.

“Bharat is an age-old name,” Isaac had said. “The name Bharat has been used in ancient texts, such as Vishnu Purana, which is 7,000 years old.”

A controversy was triggered in September after a dinner invitation from the president’s office sent to the Group of 20 summit delegates described Droupadi Murmu as the “President of Bharat” instead of the usual “President of India”.

Later, the nameplate in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inaugural address of the two-day summit also said “Bharat”, not “India”.

All recommendations made by subject-specific panels will be deliberated on by a 19-member National Syllabus and Teaching Learning Material Committee constituted in August to finalise the curriculum, textbooks and learning material.

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