India averts being clubbed as South Asia
Protests by Indians averted an attempt by certain Left-leaning academicians and scholars to dissolve India's unique identity under a larger South Asian one in US school text books.
Protests by Indians averted an attempt by certain Left-leaning academicians and scholars to dissolve India's unique identity under a larger South Asian one in US school text books. The California Department of Education's Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) rejected the academics' suggestions at a public hearing of the matter on March 24.
The suggestion for changes was moved by a group comprising of well-known Leftist scholars like Lawrence Cohen, Thomas Hansen and Sheldon Pollock. The protest began on fears that this was an attack on India's Hindu heritage and its status of being one the most ancient world cultures.
"Congrats to Hindu activists for successfully opposing and contesting the suggestion to replace 'India' by 'South Asia' in textbooks in the USA. The Leftist scholars' bid to undermine India's glorious identity was foiled by young Hindu activists and Hindu Education Foundation in California, USA," RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said.
"India has its own identity. It is very wrong to deprive India's identity. Activists have rightly carried out a campaign and demonstrated against the move," Vaidya added.
These academics, under the aegis of the South Asia Faculty Group, suggested several changes to the existing curriculum for the teaching of 'History and Social Sciences' of California Textbooks, including recommendations to substitute 'South Asia' for 'Ancient India' or 'India' in the chapters on Ancient India.
They faced stiff opposition in the form of a public movement led by the Rightwingdominated Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) which has an allegiance to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The community's efforts were also supported by a coalition of 20 government officials, including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and California State Senator Steven M Glazer.
After a huge uproar from the American-Indian community, the IQC rejected the academics' suggestions at a public hearing of the matter on March 24. Among other corrections and edits suggested by the academics, they had also recommended that the sections of Grade-6 book titled 'The Early Civilizations of India' be changed to 'The Early Civilizations of South Asia'.
Earlier this week, a petition signed by over 18,000 people had asked the commission: "Would you presume to deny the reality of India's existence and history, and its deep significance to Indian-American students in California, simply because a few misinformed professors of South Asia Studies wrote you a letter recommending you re-educate California's children in this bizarre manner?"
A large number of students and parents testified at the public hearing of the commission held in Sacramento on March 24 seeking the rejection of these changes.
"India is not just a landmass but a living civilisation. By removing the mention of India as a civilisation, my identity as an Indian-American is being sought to be erased," Vidhima Shetty, a 9th grade student in San Ramon, said during her testimony.
"What we are seeking is dignity" Bill Honig, the Chair of the Subject Matter Committee of the Commission said. Meanwhile, the South Asia Faculty Group has accused the education department of having come under the influence of 'Hindu nationalists'.
In a letter shot to the department on November 18, 2015, the group not only made recommendations after reviewing the curriculum, but also said: "Responding to pressure from Hindu nationalist and community organisations, several deleterious changes have been made to the current version of the framework," adding that, "The current framework also seems to contain added material lacking scientific or scholarly validity."