Help Stop Hindu Fundamentalists Trying to Change California Public School Textbooks sign now

Dear Friends,

Two Hindu fundamentalist (Hindutva) groups, The Hindu Education Foundation and The Vedic Foundation (both supported by the Hindu American Foundation), are trying to insert false claims and revisionist history into California textbooks. Their efforts to this end include:

1.) Erasing any mention of the caste system as a destructive and
discriminatory force.

2.) Obscuring the fact that Indian society has discriminated against women
and so called lower caste people by claiming that women had different
rights and that the role of the so called lower castes in Indian society
was simply one result of a division of labor.

3.) Misdating the beginnings of Indian civilization to 1.7 million years
ago.

4.) Misrepresenting spiritual texts like the Ramayana and Mahabharata as
historical texts that are tens of thousands of years old.

Legitimate instances of extreme cultural insensitivity to India and Hinduism in current public school textbooks do exist and need to be changed, but changed to reflect facts, not chauvinistic claims of superiority. Allowing Hindu fundamentalist groups in India and their proxy groups in the US, to exploit these instances to advance their political agenda compromises the reputation of all Indian Americans and is a disservice to the education of American school children of all races and creeds.

This political agenda, like that of Christian fundamentalist proponents of Intelligent Design theory, intends to change more than textbooks. The Hindu American Foundation, the Vedic Foundation, and the Hindu Education Foundation, have gone to great lengths to conceal their associations with known Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) figures. The RSS for those of you who dont know are a powerful Hindu fundamentalist group based in India. The HSS is the American branch of the RSS. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Hindu Education Foundation admits it was founded by the HSS. Also in the same article it was disclosed that the Vedic Foundation was 100\% owned and operated by a sub-sectarian temple group out of Austin Texas. This group, the Barsana Dham, also has well documented ties to the HSS.

Only high volume text book buyers like school systems in California, New York, Illinois, and Texas can propose changes, and thus determine which changes will appear in text books used by smaller school systems across the country. When the California State Board of Education (CSBE) asked the community to suggest textbook changes for submission to publishers, one Hindutva group, The Vedic Foundation, recommended that a retired professor, Dr. Shiva Bajpai, be added to its Curicculum Commisson (CC) advisory board as a consultant.

Dr. Shiva Bajpai, of course, was sympathetic to the Hindutva agenda having previously undisclosed ties to the Hindu Education Foundation, one of the Hindutva groups in question, and as the sole expert on the CC managed to pass the agenda through the board quietly with not a single objection to any of their requested changes. On Nov 5, 2005 word got out to the wider academic community as to what the Hindutva groups were trying to do in California. The academics responded with a letter to the CBE that repudiated and rejected almost all of the proposed changes as politically motivated and factually incorrect. Over 150 scholars from many prominent universities in the US and in India signed this letter. The Hindu fundamentalists predictably slandered the signatories as racist despite the fact that among them were among Indias leading historians, Indian Hindus themselves.


Right now, the Hindutva groups are one of the few speaking out on behalf of the Indian American community. They are publicly making claims that the Vedas are millions of years old, the the Bhagvad Gita contains the formula for the speed of light, and that ancient Hindu civilization is the source of all civilization on Earth, using dates calculated through astrology and literal interpretation of religious texts. These sorts of claims make the Indian American community as a whole look foolish. Academic Indian Studies experts are experts for a reason: they spend years studying archeology, linguistics, anthropology, symbology, theology, and history, submit their ideas to their peers for scrutiny, and defend them within the sphere of academics. Credible experts must display a level of scholarship accepted by their peers, not just simply an overzealous sense of cultural entitlement compelled by religious convictions. We respect the passion of all of the non-academic professionals who discuss these subjects, but familiarity with religious texts and access to the internet, does not qualify them as credible experts on history, linguistics, anthropology, symbology, theology or archeology, regardless of their professional accomplishments in other fields.

Along with the Supreme Court of the United States and Americans of all backgrounds, we believe that religious education is the purview not of public schools but parents, temples, mosques, synagogues, churches, and parochial schools. When we allow any scholar who dissents from Hindu fundamentalist opinions to be branded a racist or traitor, as a community, we are no better than any group of intolerant religious zealots. . We do not believe that these Hindutva groups speak for any thoughtful Indian Americans.

To help out in this regard we are forming a new group, the Indian American Public Education Advisory Council (IPAC), composed of public school teachers, lawyers, and other Indian Americans who do not support biased portrayals of India or Indians in public school textbooks. We also have no desire to allow religious/political agendas from the other side of the world to threaten the public education of American school children. Our sole purpose will be to offer our perspectives to school boards and publishers of textbooks around the country. The Hindutva lobby and other religious zealots do not represent all Indian Americans or our interests. To learn more about us and the this issue, please visit us at:

www.indiantruth.org

Please, click the following link to sign an online petition, asking the California Board of Education to reconsider the changes that the Hindu fundamentalists, the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation, supported by the Hindu American Foundation, have requested.

Also, please pass this petition information on to anyone who you think would object to religious fundamentalism rearing its head in public school classrooms, regardless of its form. If we do not stand up to Hindu fundamentalists pushing their revisionist agenda in the public schools at this time, other religious fundamentalists may exert the same power to exalt their religious beliefs while denigrating others. Thank you for your time and signing the petition.

Sincerely,

The Indian American Public Education Advisory Council

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