Indian-Americans have expressed their distress over the negative portrayal of Hindu culture and India in the proposed California school textbooks.
“It is disappointing to see that even after a decade of building awareness by the Hindu-American community, textbooks, especially by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), McGraw-Hill, Discovery and National Geographic, continue to use orientalist narratives to portray Indian civilisation,” said Shantharam Nekkar, director of Hindu Education Foundation USA (HEF).
Nekkar’s gave these remarks at a public hearing conducted by the California Department of Education (CDE) at Sacramento on Thursday.
The struggle by the Indian communities living abroad continues to remove myths and inaccuracies surrounding Hinduism from school textbooks. The State of California has directed that the textbooks should be based on the framework laid down by the Department of Education. However, this framework had been revised following some issues.
Several inputs have been added by the department to update the content of the textbooks, mentioning Hindu concepts like Yoga and Dharma, Sages Vyasa and Valmiki and Indian achievements in science and technology.
“Some publishers continue to single out and denigrate Hinduism while ignoring new additions to the framework that can help present Indian civilisation on par with other civilisations and cultures,” said Sharat Joshi, a parent.
“Negative portrayal of Hinduism has led to several instances of bullying of Hindu children in classrooms,” he added.
The Department of Education will send its recommendations to the State Board of Education (SBE) later this year for its approval. The textbooks that will be recommended by the board are expected to be adopted by the schools from next year.