Hindu Americans Oppose Textbook Edits by Curriculum Commission – Updated


Over 100 Hindu Americans staged a silent protest outside the Department of Education building in Sacramento, Calif., March 24 to voice their concerns regarding the California Department of Education Instructional Quality Commission’s plans to accept edits made by a group of South Asian studies faculty members to California state textbooks from Grade 6–10. The proposed edits seek to remove references to India and Hinduism, and replace them with the terms “South Asia” and “ancient Indian religion,” respectively.

The protestors holding signs asking for equality, justice and accurate representation, also included students and their parents who were concerned about the fate of the textbooks and the impact it would have on their children and the community at large.

Some of the proposed edits, according to the Hindu American Foundation, include eliminating mention of Hinduism’s acceptance of religious diversity, and the contributions of Hindu sages from lower socio-economic backgrounds or disadvantaged groups such as Valmiki and Vyasa.

“South Asian faculty is trying to relink caste to Hindu religious beliefs rather than it being more of a social and economic construct, and it is contrary to what the commission had earlier suggested,” Samir Kalra, HAF director and senior fellow for Human Rights, told India-West. “They are trying to remove the fact that Hinduism has been known for its profound diversity.”

The majority of the edits that the faculty group was trying to suggest, Kalra said, were negative in nature in relation to Hinduism and India. “They were trying to erase a lot of the identity and contribution of Hinduism and ancient Indian civilization,” he clarified.

The South Asian studies faculty members, who became involved in the process towards the end of 2015, comprise a small group of scholars from various humanities fields representing different universities, many of whom were not religious scholars, according to Kalra.

“What they have said is actually not based on scholarly consensus and opposed by many other academics, both involved in the process and outside the process,” Kalra told India-West.

Kalra added that there was a hearing on March 24 where the IQC met to review many of the suggested edits. Initially, the IQC’s writing team had recommended 80 percent of the South Asia faculty group’s edits, but during the hearing many of those edits were rejected, he said.

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