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IIT to teach 'glorious past'

An Indian Institute of Technology and some other higher education institutions are planning to launch courses on "India's glorious past" in keeping with a nudge from the Narendra Modi government last year.

By Basant Kumar Mohanty
  • Published 4.09.17
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New Delhi, Sept. 3: An Indian Institute of Technology and some other higher education institutions are planning to launch courses on "India's glorious past" in keeping with a nudge from the Narendra Modi government last year.

IIT Bhubaneswar is likely to add courses on "Indian heritage", "Vedic science", Indian philosophy and Sanskrit to its bouquet of elective humanities and social science courses for BTech students.

The Delhi-based Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) is poised to launch a certificate course on India's cultural heritage, titled "Bharat Bodh", that is likely to touch on the country's "untapped traditional wisdom". The university is also holding a series of lectures on India's heritage and culture.

The National Council of Educational Research and Training too is considering a proposal to increase the content on India's "glorious past" in its school textbooks.

An official said the council was likely to borrow some of the material from the textbooks on "Knowledge, Tradition and Practices of India", published by the Central Board of Secondary Education for its Class XI and XII students.

He added that the council was reviewing all the textbooks that might undergo changes.

Although some academics feel that the existing school textbooks adequately cover India's contribution to the world of knowledge, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP have always stressed a need for more content on the subject.

Last year, the Union human resource development ministry had written to all the IITs to research the scientific knowledge embedded in Sanskrit texts.

"Bharat's education system became such that we kept forgetting Bharat's culture," minister Prakash Javadekar said this week while inaugurating a lecture series called "Bharat Bodh", organised by Ignou and a Sangh affiliate, the Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal.

"It is necessary to know and remember the world but this does not imply that we can forget (about) Bharat. It is necessary to understand Bharat and its glorious past," a media release issued by Ignou on Monday quoted Javadekar as saying.

A source at IIT Bhubaneswar said the institute had last week discussed the possible new elective courses for its BTech programme, and a final decision would be taken at a later meeting.

Gopinath Ravindran, who teaches history at the Jamia Millia Islamia here, said the achievements made in ancient India were well reflected in the existing NCERT textbooks.

"These books, as well as many courses offered by universities, do discuss India's traditional knowledge, science and culture. If they (Sangh-BJP) are saying the material is inadequate, they should explain why they feel so," Ravindran said.

A Delhi University teacher said that universities, being autonomous institutions, should be left to decide what courses they should offer.

"Every institution has an academic council to decide such matters, and no course should be designed to satisfy the political masters," the teacher argued.

Calls to the Ignou vice-chancellor's phone number evoked the response "not reachable".