California Education Department will review suggested edits to the words “India” & “Hinduism” within school textbooks.
After a nationwide protest from Hindus in America, the California Education Department has decided to put a stop to reviews of its history textbooks where there were suggested changes like replacing ‘India’ with ‘South Asia’ in state text books among many other changes. This was after a public hearing on the matter, where several parents and students gave testimonies.
California usually reviews its textbooks and teacher guidelines every six years, with this year being a review year and final draft of the guidelines submissions being scheduled for May. California being the largest state, most states are bound to follow in the footsteps and affect public schools across the nation. In addition, most publishers follow the stipulated guidelines for their books to be recognized for use going to show the importance of this review.
The changes stemmed from a signed letter to the California Department of Education from a group of leftist academics. According to the South Asian faculty, the reason behind these suggestions was that currently the term India refers to one state whereas ancient India also covered South Asian nations such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
This move was immediately strongly opposed by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) which is a non-profit advocacy group for the Hindu American community. It stated that the suggested revisions to Californian public school textbooks reinforce cultural stereotypes and historical inaccuracies. They in turn started the #donteraseindia online campaign.
The Foundation also filed a suit against the procedural violations of the California State Board of Education which suggested textbook edits and changes which fail to bring the Hinduism sections up to the standards set forth by the codes of the California Department of Education. The Education Code maintains that no textbook or other instructional materials is to be adopted by the state for public schools use, which may contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons based on their sex, race, color, handicap, creed, nationality and/or ancestry.
The suggested changes by the South Asian faculty include the removal of a reference to river Saraswati, which is an ancient river considered sacred by Hindus, replacement of all references to India with South Asia and omission of the mention of acceptance of religious diversity in Hinduism, descriptions of the contributions of non-Brahmin originating Hindu sages, and links of Hinduism with caste.
— Dalit Diva (@dalitdiva) April 22, 2016
California is currently home to the largest Hindu population in America, an estimate of around a million hence it being largely diverse. It seems like for now the changes may not be implemented, but the campaign is still ongoing, awaiting the final draft submissions by the Department.