Soon to be introduced in schools from the next academic year, the board games like Sarp-Rajju (Snakes and Ropes) and five others have been developed by The Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS), an innovation cell founded at the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 2020.
Sarp-Rajju and five other indoor games have been developed to promote interdisciplinary research on aspects of indigenous knowledge. Though it resembles the Snakes and Ladder game at a glance but looking closely it reveals that there are ropes instead of ladders, with 72 (9×8), not 100 squares, with nine being the number of sensory windows and eight the parts of the body. Players start at cell 68, named vaikuntha (eternal bliss).
The other cells too are named after elements from Hindu philosophy, like moha (delusion) and kaama (desire). Each throw of the dice indicates the number of cells the player must advance, tracing their ‘karmic path’ back towards vaikuntha. If there are doubts about the rules, players can scan a QR code to access them.
The games have been divided into three segments: dice-based, strategic, and those based on engagement. By the end of the year, 15 games are likely to be launched.
Other board games that have been revived are Bagh-Bakri (Tiger and Goats), Dash Ghuti (10 Pieces), and Chutaranga. Ninyaanave ka Pher (The Cycle of 99), a game from Rajasthan; and Golokdhaam, a game from West Bengal.
Ancient board games of India were vastly different from what we have today. You could just play with readily available things: seeds, stones, pebbles, and draw them out on the mud.
The initiative follows the ministry’s focus on the shift from rote-based to fun-filled learning that is one of the themes of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The aim is to promote creativity and a multi-faceted growth.
These indoor games will be introduced to school children in the next academic year, under the Bhartiya Games programme that has already launched 75 outdoor games from different parts of the country in the current school year. Anuradha Choudhry, a coordinator with the IKS is of the opinion that through these games, they plan to introduce the Indian world-view to children as well as adults.
Some indoor games have been included in the Jadui Pitara (magic box), a play-based learning programme tailored for children between 3 and 8 years.
The programme, available in 13 languages, was launched by Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan last year, and has been developed under the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), one of the key components of the NEP.
Many of these games were circulated among G-20 delegates at various meetings. An exhibition of forms of Chaturanga (chess), curated by the Ministry of Culture, was held in March, and was open to many in the education sector.