The Fight Over California’s Textbooks and Their Representation of India

Also in Samar, a look at the battle over the discussion of India in California’s 6th grade social science textbooks.

A months-long struggle over the California sixth-grade history and social science textbook content on India, Indian history, and Hinduism culminated at a contentious public hearing in California’s state capitol, Sacramento, on February 27, 2006. A special committee to the State Board of Education (SBE) voted on whether to recommend approved edits and corrections, the content of which had resulted in various opposing mobilizations in the diasporic Indian community in the Bay Area and across the United States.

I had become deeply concerned when I heard in November of 2005 that two Hindu Nationalist Indian American groups, the Vedic Foundation (VF) and Hindu Education Foundation (HEF), backed by the Hindu American Foundation, had marshaled to intervene in the editing process of these sections. (See History Hungama: The California Textbook Debate for in-depth elaborations on the significance of these relationships.) Through their lobbying and unsubstantiated claims of representing the largest population of Hindus, they succeeded in pushing through 131 of their 153 proposed revisions between September-December 2005. These adoptions were met with great opposition and resulted in the investigation of the special committee that decided to overturn the 2005 edits. But the claims that these revisions were necessary because they perpetuate misrepresentations about India and Hinduism and proliferate discriminatory stereotypes need to be challenged.