NCERT needs to get its lesson right on anthem

The NCERT's new Class III textbook for Environmental Studies, released in April this year, says the national anthem was ''adopted in its Hindi version'' by the Constituent Assembly. The minutes of the Constituent Assembly, accessed by The Indian Express, however, does not mention of ''adopting'' the anthem. Neither, does it talk about any particular language.

The book, at the very outset, has the national anthem. Underneath the anthem, it says: ''Our national anthem, composed originally in Bangla by Rabindranath Tagore, was adopted in its Hindi version by the Constituent Assembly as the national anthem of India on January 24, 1950.''

On the contrary, minutes of the proceedings recorded on January 24, 1950, published in the Debates of Constituent Assembly, quotes Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly: ''There is one matter that had been pending for discussion, namely the question of national anthem. At one time, it was thought that the matter might be brought up before the House and the decision taken by the House, by way of a resolution, but it has been felt that instead of taking a formal decision it is better if I make a statement with regard to the national anthem. Accordingly, I make this statement.''

It goes on to state: ''The composition, consisting of the words and music, known as Jana Gana Mana, is the national anthem of India, subject to such alteration in the words, as the government may authorise as occasion arises. And the song, Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana, and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy the members.''

NCERT's textbook development committee's member-coordinator, Prof Manju Jain of the Elementary Education department, had this excuse, ''These are preliminary pages, they are not the content of the book... so they are not meant for children. The publication department has put this, the textbook panel deals with the content. I'll get it checked.''

The chairperson of advisory committee for textbooks at the primary level, Prof Anita Rampal of Delhi University's Education department, said,''I have no knowledge of this.''

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