Skip to main content

Caste discrimination not to be included in California school books? US NRIs keep close watch on eve of "final vote"

By Our Representative
The California’s State Board of Education is all set to vote on new textbooks, includes 6th/7th grade history textbooks, amidst a major controversy having broken out in the US' NRI community on whether to include caste as a form of slavery in the chapters that teach South Asian civilization.
While the South Asian Histories for All (SAHFA), a multi-faith, inter-caste coalition, has urged the state of California to "approve only those textbooks that tell a neutral and factual history of South Asia", with one of its senior office bearers, Praveen Sinha, insisting, “We wouldn’t censor slavery in our textbooks. So why erase caste?”, American Hindutva Hindu lobby groups have apparently been successful in seeking to erase caste.
According to SAHFA, the effort has been to "hide basic historical facts -- including erasing the history of caste oppression", quoting American Dalit Dolly Arjun as pointing out that "erasing caste impacts California students and parents", pointing out how in India her parents "faced caste-based atrocities.”
SAHFA feels http://www.southasianhistoriesforall.org that the need for insisting on calling caste a form of slavery is particularly important, as "in 2016, the Board agreed with on many key points while approving the official curriculum framework", but "failed to enforce its own guidelines as publishers developed textbooks."
Accorsding to SAHFA, "Now every proposed textbook covering ancient South Asia has major errors, including hiding the history of caste oppression", giving examples of how this is being done.
For instance, the official guidelines of Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook (section 6.2, page 2) said “A person belonged to a particular…[caste]…primarily by birth.” But the textbook publisher talked of “an ideal set of social classes based on…natural abilities”.
The official guidelines of the National Geographic World History Ancient Civilizations, California Student Edition (unit 2, chapter 6, section 1.3, page 149) described the "Dalit people" as: “In addition, by 500 CE or earlier, there existed certain communities outside the jati system, the Dalits.” But the textbook publisher wrote: “At the bottom were slaves, laborers, and artisans…Many centuries later, another group developed that was considered even lower.”
The official guidelines National Geographic World History Ancient Civilizations, California Student Edition (unit 4, section 2.2, page 273) said, “Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak, a social reformer who challenged the authority of the Brahmins and the caste order.” But the textbook publisher did not mention Sikh opposition to caste or Brahmin authority.
The official guidelines for Pearson California History -- Social Science my World Interactive (Lesson 4.1, Page 132) referred to the “Indus Valley Civilization”, the standard name used by scholars and academics, but the textbook publisher wrote a controversial alternate name preferred by many Hindutva theorists: “Indus Saraswati civilization“.
The official guidelines for the California Studies Weekly – Social Studies (week 24) said, “A person belonged to a particular…[caste]…primarily by birth", but the textbook publisher wrote: “Someone’s position in society was based on his or her nature, or attitude”.
The official guidelines for Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt Social Studies World History: Ancient Civilizations, California Edition (grade 6, module 6, page 180) said, “Although ancient India was a patriarchy, women had a right to their personal wealth…but little property rights when compared to men, akin to the other ancient kingdoms and societies”, the textbook publisher wrote:“In ancient India, women had most of the same rights as men”.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Ummm - no - not true.

All of the textbooks retain information on caste discrimination. The frameworks were adhered to. The only thing that was included was that there were Hindu movements against caste and that many modern Hindus do not practice caste discrimination. This was important because the previous textbooks made it seem that one could not be a hindu without practicing caste discrimination.

Caste being determined by birth is noted in all of the text books. the part about natural ability talks about the origin of what would have been the varna system in the vedic era as opposed to the jaati system which was occupation based. Both became conflated / intertwined and ended up becoming the modern day caste system. However, you only took part of the original sentence of the entire passage

With regards to the comment "In ancient India, women had most of the same rights as men”. You left out the main part of the sentence which was "akin to other ancient societies, men had more rights than women"

You have to look at the final edits in total. Don't just use ellipses to gloss over things that don't support your argument.



























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen