They’re after the school curriculum again…
Well this came as a shock. How had I managed to miss it until now? And is there never going to be an end to this kind of nonsense?
The State Board of Education, California, is currently engaged in approving the history/social science textbooks for grades six to eight in schools, an exercise undertaken periodically. The Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation (based in the U.S.) have used the occasion to push through “corrections” in the textbooks approved. Shiva Bajpai, who constituted the one-member ad hoc committee set up by the Board, succeeded in getting virtually all the changes requested by these organisations incorporated into the textbooks. Professor Emeritus at California State University, Northridge, and a Hindutva-leaning adviser to the Board, Bajpai was proposed as expert by the Vedic Foundation. That the Hindutva groups have not had a walkover is thanks to the vigilance and commitment of the many academics involved in Indian studies all over the world.
Here we go again. And again, and again, and again.
Intervention by Professors Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer in the form of a letter, signed by 50 other scholars, presented at a public hearing on November 9, resulted in the Board reversing its initial approval of the pro-Hindutva changes. Prof. Witzel is a well-known Indologist and has often taken up the cudgels against Hindutva ideologues such as David Frawley, N.S. Rajaram and Konrad Elst in the West. Witzel’s letter, endorsed among others by renowned Indian historians Romila Thapar, D.N. Jha and Shereen Ratnagar, to Ruth Green, President, State Board of Education, California, on behalf of “world specialists on ancient India”, voicing “mainstream academic opinion in India, Pakistan, the United States, Europe, Australia, Taiwan and Japan” on the issue, is now part of a concerted campaign encompassing well-known scholars and hundreds of teachers and parents in California.
Well good luck to them, and if B&W can help them at all, perhaps by drawing attention to the subject – it will, that’s what. I’ve emailed PZ; that’s a start.
Asserting that “the proposed revisions are not of a scholarly, but of a religious-political nature and are primarily promoted by Hindutva supporters and non-specialist academics writing about issues far outside their areas of expertise”, the scholars have called on the Board to “reject the demands by nationalist Hindu (Hindutva) groups”. From India, 12 historians have written to the CC to reject the changes proposed by the RSS-linked organisations in the U.S…Frantic mobilisation…in support of the changes suggested by the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation, and the pressure of a host of organisations that constitute the `parivar’ in the U.S. resulted in many of the proposed changes in textbooks getting the approval despite scholarly opinion being heavily weighted against it…Of the total 156 edits requested, the CC accepted 97 that conformed to what the Hindutva organisations had proposed.
Read the whole thing. I want to keep quoting and quoting, but there’s such a thing as copyright – so read it. It’s amazing stuff – also all too familiar.
The moves by the Hindu Right in the U.S. are no flash in the pan. The web sites of two of the organisations spearheading the Hindutva campaign – the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation – expressly state the revision of school textbooks in the U.S. as part of their political agenda. They regularly “interact” with State Education Committees that define school curriculum…
Oh, gawd…here we really do go again. Well – once more unto the breach, dear friends. Tell everyone you know.