Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hindutva In American Schools: Links

Some excellent posts by bloggers on the recent controversy in California over attempts by Hindu groups to have their version of Indian history incorporated into school textbooks (see the Christian Science Monitor). While the California school board initially approved changes earmarked for them by the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation, after a concerted effort by academics the changes have been reversed. See, academic expertise does matter for something.

--The great science-blogger Pharyngula, now from his new site:

Yeah, these aren't fundamentalist Christians, but Hindu nationalists with very strange ideas—still, it's the same old religious nonsense.

(As far as I'm concerned, the fundamentalist Christian ideas are equally strange, but that's a small quibble!)

--Butterflies and Wheels, an equally steadfast advocate of secularist thinking.

--Our new blog-friend, the Accidental Blogger

--And here's Archana.

Suffice it to say, I find the prospect of the incursion of Hindutva ideology into the American school system pretty surreal.

UPDATE: This is just a links post. See my more detailed response to the California controversy here.


Rishi Gajria said...


There's a healthy debate going on at this website about this particular issue. Worth Reading.

3:40 AM  
Amardeep said...


I don't see a link to the website you're talking about. If you're talking about Pharyngula, you'll note that I linked to that site in the post itself.

10:35 AM  
Rishi Gajria said...

Yes, I know. I was only curious if you had read the debate going on at the bottom of the page.

3:44 PM  
Ruchira Paul said...

Pharyngula is definitely smoking - close to a hundred comments on Hindutva and its implications. But I was a little disappointed that PZ Myers based his entire post on the outrageous scientific claims which incidentally were NOT the bone of contention in the debate over the curriculum. They are claims which were supposedly posted on the website of one of the Hindu advocacy groups. I guess every blog must have an agenda - otherwise, why bother?

5:15 PM  
Pratap said...

I think this is getting blown out of proportions. The NCERT in India itself does not have proper information on hindutva and Indian history in textbooks. Why quibble over it here !?!?

5:30 PM  
Ruchira Paul said...

Because Pratap, WE are HERE.

7:09 PM  
asarwate said...

The Mutiny also tried to deal with this issue, and the outcome was decidedly less clear... the anti-academic rhetoric was pretty ugly as well.

8:35 PM  
Chandra said...

There is a better article in WSJ on Jan 25 on this topic.

I don't understand why its okay for Jewish and Muslim groups to accentuate the positive and toning down the negative, but it is such a big deal if Hindu groups try to do the same. Trying to change Ashoka's tolerance was "unusual" for the time to "usual" is disputed. Apparently the rest of people during Ashoka's time were brutes.

And are all the parents in Fairfax right-wingers? And what about the poor Hindu kids who have explain their religion to their classmates?

To me the kicker is while Mr. Bajpai (that right winger), who wanted to project Hinduism in positive light, says that Harvard Sanskrit Professer Mr. Witzel, who took it upon himself to fight the apparent changes, doesn't understand anything, Mr. Witzel says Mr. Bajpai is mixing religion with scholarship!

Isn't this a middle school text with probably few pages on Hinduism (i.e. about a religion)? Mr. Witzel wants to do a scholarly work in a school textbook?

The whole thing is blown out of proportion by the ancient India study academics.

10:19 PM  
Amardeep said...

Thanks guys for pointing me to the discussion on Pharyngula -- a fascinating thread.

I'm reading through the document with the changes requested by the HEF and the VF, and I realize a second post might be in order.

While the two organizations are not groups I would support, the specific changes the HEF wants to make at least are worth considering (though not necessarily correct in all instances).

Expect another post on this soon...

9:31 AM  
Alan Kumar said...

Perhaps this might help you to understand it better

6:47 AM  

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