California Textbook Controversy: ‘India’ not to be replaced with ‘South Asia’

The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) that met on Thursday to decide upon the final stages of History Social Science Framework to be adopted for the next ten years in California schools, has decided to retain references to ‘India’ and ‘Hinduism’ in school textbooks.

Sacramento, California, May 20: In what may bring relief to hundreds of Indian American families of California, the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) that met on Thursday to decide upon the final stages of History Social Science Framework to be adopted for the next ten years in California schools, has decided to retain references to ‘India’ and ‘Hinduism’ in school textbooks.

California has witnessed a raging debate regarding the portrayal of Indian history in California’s school textbooks. A group of South Asia studies faculty- South Asia Faculty Group (SAFG)- had asked the California Board of Education (CBE) to remove references to “India” and “Hinduism” and to replace them with the words “South Asia” and “Ancient Indian Religion.” Following these suggestions, the IQC in its review on March 24th had accepted many of the edits proposed by the SAFG.

Opposing some of these edits, many Hindu groups, had requested the CBE to not erase references to India and Hinduism and thus uproot Hindu American children from their roots. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) had run a successful Social Media campaign titled ‘Don’t Erase India’. Similarly, a group of academics led by Prof. Vamsee Juluri, Professor of Media Studies and Asian Studies, USF under “Scholars for People” had initiated a petition against the proposed changes, which was signed by more than 25,000 people within a few days. Recently, another group of mainstream scholars. Recently, another group of academics, with scholars such as Barbara McGraw of Saint Marys College of California, Diana Eck of Harvard University and Gerald James Larson of Indiana University, under the name “Social Science and Religion Faculty Group (SSRFG)” had also urged the CBE to retain references to ‘India’ and ‘Hinduism’.

Following these multiple petitions to the CBE, the full-membership panel of IQC, which reviewed its March 24th decisions yesterday, has decided to revise its earlier decision to remove usage of terms- India and Hinduism, though they have retained most of their other decisions from March 24th meet.

According to initial reports, the IQC backtracked from using ‘Ancient South Asia’ in its chapter and will retain the usage of ‘Ancient India’. It further backtracked from completely removing references to ‘Hinduism’, but has decided to retain the compromise suggestion of using ‘ancient Indian religions, including but not limited to Hinduism’, reached on March 24th. They also backtracked from their earlier decision of deleting references to ‘Valmiki’ and “Vyasa’ in the context of sages who were not born into Brahmin families and respected by Dalit communities.

Unfortunately, the IQC deleted references to Jatis that had described them as being self-governing in ancient India. Further, they decided to retain references to Caste that portrayed a very narrow view of Caste as being tied only to birth and as being integral to Hinduism. But, contrary to the treatment meted out to caste and Hinduism, the IQC reopened an accepted change regarding slavery in Islam and whitewashed the same. As a result, the California textbooks will still portray Hinduism as being synonymous with Caste system, whereas other religions have been sanitized with respect to many of their practices.

The IQC will likely next take up interfacing with textbook publishers and bring out new textbooks within a year or two.  The IQC’s decision to retain references to India and Hinduism has brought relief to many Hindu Americans, though the setback regarding the portrayal of Caste is likely to remain a concern. Welcoming the final outcome of the IQC meet, Professor Vamsee Juluri tweeted:

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  • RS

    India should retort by describing US as country formed about 200 years ago by marauding invaders who destroyed the indigenous people and put them in reservations in their own land. Reference to slave trade would do nicely. Fight fire with fire. No other way .

  • R Nanjappa

    This brings some consolation,but we cannot afford to relax. After the adoption of the American Constitution, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether they now had a republic. He replied: “Republic, if you can keep it.” Now we must not only keep what we have won, but build on it. We cannot relax as the leftist, anti-Indian interests are sure to raise some other issues.

    One source of personal satisfaction here. I find that Diana Eck of Harvard was one of those who supported retaining India and Hinduism. Some time ago in this blog there was some discussion on a review of Diana Eck’s book : India- A Sacred Geography. I had said then that though the book displayed some standard western prejudices, Eck had recognised that India had a sense of national identity which was not based on the modern/recent western concept of nation state. India had a different criterion. And she also said that the name India gave herself “Bharat’ was a wholly original indigenous name. She has shown in the book how this sense of nationhood pervaded every nook and corner of the country.[In this sense, this book goes beyond Radha Kumud Mukherjee’s ” The Fundamental Unity of India” ( Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan]. I am therefore not surprised that she supported retaining India and Hinduism. That one book disposes of the tricks of the leftist anti-Hindu tribes in the present case.

    That India was made a nation by the British, that Hinduism was .invented by Vivekananda are all the standard tricks or jokes adopted by the Marxist brigade. We have to keep countering them. Unfortunately, the leftist view has taken the default position in all public discourse, as Roger Scruton has pointed out. [ “Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left”. Bloomsbury,2015.] Other views are denied public space. Till this position is changed, we cannot afford to relax.

  • Anfauglir

    Get it right. Not “dalits”. They’re Harijan. Others call themselves “SC”. They’re not dalits. Only monotheism has dalits, when it comes to getting kickbacks. As at 2003, no one called themselves “dalit”, but only as “Harijan”, or else a few referred to themselves as “SC”. (Any monotheists only referred to themselves as per their monotheist denomination of christian or muslim).

    Only cryptomonotheists, especially the Indian media, refer to Harijan (i.e. Hindus) as “dalits”, in order to segregate them from Hindus and to christen them for a future conversion-harvest.

    Tomorrow even today’s activists for “Hinduism” and “India” will be speaking only of “Ancient Indian religion” and “South Asia”. The same way they same speak of “dalits” today, when:

    EPW Commentary – September 6, 2003 – Dalit or Harijan
    Dalit or Harijan? Self-Naming by Scheduled Caste Interviewees
    The terms harijan and dalit have evolved over the last many decades, with the latter more or less replacing the former in published works of recent years. What do members of the scheduled castes call themselves?

    Alan Marriott

    While most of the scheduled caste respondents gave their jati, a proportion recorded a generic name, but while harijan (or harizan or some other spelling) was used by 1351 respondents in 18 different states, and a number of respondents used scheduled caste, not one respondent chose dalit. In addition some respondents gave harijan qualified by their jati, eg, harijan parayar in Tamil Nadu (Table 2).

    Whatever the reservations about the data the scale of the difference in the use of dalit and harijan suggests that there is a real contrast in the preferred name chosen by external commentators and SC people themselves. Ambedkar may be winning the posthumous rivalry among the scribbling classes but Gandhi remains the dominant opinion-former among the SCs themsleves.

    (It has little enough to do with Gandhi. He may have joined two words, but Harijan is composed of Hindu (Hari) and Indic (jana) terms; and only Hindus would call themselves by it, since the name Hari transcends any claim Gandhi may try to make on coining the whole phrase.)

    Any Hindu brainwashed by cryptochristian media into calling Harijan Hindus as “dalits” is merely promoting anti-heathenism and is discriminating against Harijan, by ignoring what they choose to call themselves. The use of “dalit” in the article above is referring to Harijan (i.e. Hindu heathens) here: only they respect Valmiki and Vyasa. We’re not talking about converts to monotheism, neo-Buddhism or atheism.

    So I have no doubt the same persons resisting “South Asia” today will become “South Asianists” tomorrow. Why even bother resisting, unless you can be consistent.

  • BB

    Name controversy between India vs. South Asia was all a smoke screen. The Hinduphobia team wanted what they wanted – project Hindu culture in a bad light continuing the colonial distortion. Backtracking from the name issue gave the required cover for that.

  • SSM

    Many people who use the term “South Asia” tend to be Hinduphobic, anti-India, pro-Pakistan and pro-giving away Kashmir. Happy that it’s been kept out of textbooks, at least for now.

    Does the text about Islam include a discussion of jihad and its contribution to terrorism?

  • m p

    School text-books of Pakistan, India and USA provide false portrayal of Hinduism. Pakistan does it explicitly. On the other hand, India/USA, under MMM influence, do it implicitly. Pak uses 1 excuse. US/India use another excuse but end result is same.

  • Krispy K

    Indians/Hindus having to argue with non-Indians/non-Hindus about how OUR OWN culture and civilisation should be labelled is the height of absurdity, and an indication of our historical meekness and willingness to be trampled upon. Those same contemptible traits have also facilitated the zombiefication of those many, many Indians who have proven willing to work against their own culture and people.

    May this victory signpost a PERMANENT reversal in those (mis)fortunes.