Communists’ anti-hindu stand exposed

via Mahadev published on December 19, 2005

If the people here believe that the anti-Hindu activities of the Indian Communists are confined to the country alone, then they are mistaken. It is not so, they don’t leave any stone unturned to belittle the Hindus and Hinduism be it in India or abroad. Not to leave any opportunity that they come across in their dubious pursuit, the Indian communists have made a futile attempt recently.

Probably because of their status in India as a partner of the present ruling alliance in New Delhi and their belief still that their’s is a global philosophy, notwithstanding its rejection by the masses in all the erstwhile communist bloc of 17 countries in Eastern Europe, the Communists have tried their hand to misguide the California Education Board.

They are seem to be under the illusion that with their mere presence in the Indian states of Kerala and West Bengal and the latest marriage of convenience with the Congress to elevate a group of pseudo secularists to power in New Delhi and making them to dance to the Communist tune, they could offer advices to foreign education boards.

Given this undeserving elevated position in India and following the foot-prints of the Socialist Historians of the Nehru Era, they have gone to the extent of making a futile attempt to advice the California School Board not to make any changes to the lessons in their text books relating to Hinduism and India as demanded by the Indo American Hindus in the US this year. The Hindus in the US found the text books were carrying false, distorted and inaccurate information about the religion and the country.  

The Communists had sent out an appeal through its website “Peoples’ democracy” to the California School Board. But, on Dec 02 2005, the State Board of Education Curriculum Commission of California (SBECC) accepted most Hindu changes to Sixth Grade Text Books.

How the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had tried to intervene in this text book revision issue of the SBECC against the interests of Hindus, Hinduism and the country is evident from the article in their publication “People’s Democracy” which is available in their website.

Though it was datelined Dec 04, the article was written before the California Curriculum Commission meeting on Dec 02 which rejected nearly all the recommendations of the “renowned historians” mentioned hereunder, the Hawaii-based HPI quipped.

Here are some relevant excerpts from the article: 

The battle over secular texts on Indian history for schools and a rational view of the past is not confined to the matter of NCERT textbooks in India. More recently the RSS inspired organizations and the Hindutva lobbyists in the US have been over-active in attempting to change school textbooks in the state of California. That they have not had a walk-over is thanks to the vigilance and commitment of the many academics involved in Indian studies all over the world, who have solidly opposed these moves. 

The proposed changes in favor of the Hindutva view of Indian history and culture in the school texts became known only on November 5, 2005. Some of the individuals who had been asked to sign a memorandum, prepared by The Vedic Foundation, got alarmed and were alert enough to write to Professor Witzel of Harvard University, who has been consistently and publicly writing against the Hindutva concoctions of history. Thereafter the matter snowballed into a controversy at November 9 public hearing when a letter from Professor Michael Witzel was submitted to the Board of Education informing them of the motivations of the Hindutva efforts and requesting them to reject the Hindutva-recommended changes. 

The State of California is now in the final stages of approving the history/social science textbooks for grade 6-8 in schools. This exercise takes place periodically and a number of publishers submit their books for approval and selection on these occasions to th e Department of Education. 

It is at this stage this year that two Hindutva organizations based in the US, the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation, submitted what they argued were necessary “corrections” to be made in the textbooks approved, and Shiva Bajpai, a Hindutva-leaning advisor to the California Board of Education, succeeded in getting virtually all the changes requested by them approved by an ad hoc committee of the State Board of education. 

Professor Witzel and Professor Steve Farmer, along with fifty other academics, including renowned Indian historians Romila Thapar, DN Jha and Shereen Ratnagar, have written to Ruth Green, president, State Board of Education, California, on behalf of “world specialists on ancient India,” reflecting “mainstream academic opinion in India, Pakistan, the United States, Europe, Australia, Taiwan and Japan,” to “reject the demands by nationalist Hindu (Hindutva) groups” that California textbooks be altered to conform to their religious-political views. ” They have pointed out that “the proposed revisions are not of a scholarly, but of a religious-political nature and are primarily promoted by Hindutva supporters and non-specialist academics writing about issues far outside their areas of expertise,” and that “these views not reflect the views of majority of the specialists on ancient Indian history, nor of majority of the Hindus.” 

Their letter also says that these proposed ‘corrections’ are motivated by political agendas discriminatory to millions of people in India, especially the minorities, lower castes and women, and that they have been debated thoroughly and rejected in India as well by academics and secular political forces. They have clearly warned that the endorsement of the views of these Hindutva so-called scholars by the California State Board of Education would cause a virtual international scandal. 

To strengthen the secular position a petition has also been circulated on the internet and signatures are pouring in every day. They have also appealed to the public at large that “If you believe in teaching California’s children true history and culture of India, it is very important for you to attend the public hearing on December 1 and 2 in Sacramento and voice your opinion rejecting the Hindutva-recommended changes.” The major demand is that no changes should be made in textbooks at the behest of any organization/individual other than the distinguished panel of scholars the Board has been working with since November 9. 

A look at the specific changes demanded by the Hindutva organizations would show them to be integral to the Sangh Parivar political agenda, and very similar to what the BJP government was trying to do here with the NCERT syllabus and the NCERT textbooks in social sciences, particularly history.This entire effort is part of the RSS’s larger goal to “educate” the Hindu children brought up in the US to be “good Hindus” and to “learn the truth about Indian history and culture,” no doubt assisting in the search for “roots” and “anchor” that the Hindu youth –like the other immigrants–hanker for! That these children could become Hindutva’s international support one day is one thing; they could well become its victims right now if the powerful Hindutva organizations in the US are allowed to have their way. 

But their efforts yielded no results at all as the Commission ignored it probably understanding clearly the ulterior motives of the Communists (Marxists).

In its report from Sacramento on Dec 04, The Hindu Press International (HPI) said “the California Hindus breathed a sigh of relief after Dec 02’s meeting of the State Board of Education Curriculum Commission”. The Vedic Foundation (here) and Hindu Education Foundation (here) worked for months through the California Department of Education (CDE) procedures suggesting improvements for the sections of California textbooks that deal with India and Hinduism.

Their 170 corrections (“edits,” as the CDE calls them) were initially reviewed by an “Ad-Hoc Committee” which included renowned Indologist, Dr. Shiva Bajpai, who had been hired by the Commission, and CDE staff. But then at the intervention of Dr. Michael Witzel of Harvard University, a last-minute “Content Review Panel” was set up to go over the changes approved by Dr. Bajpai’s committee again. Witzel claimed the changes were motivated by “Hindutva” forces and would “lead without fail to an international educational scandal if they are accepted by the California’s State Board of Education.” This panel, comprised of Dr. Witzel, Dr. Stanley Wolpert of UCLA and Dr. James Heitzman, Director of Summer Sessions, University of California, Davis, rejected 58 of the proposed Hindu edits, especially those dealing with an “Aryan Invasion” of India in ancient times.  

Hindus despaired as they believed the Curriculum Commission would accept the Witzel panel recommendations in their entirety. This is not, however, what happened, the HPI said. Near the beginning of the meeting on Friday, Commissioner Dr. Stan Metzenberg, a professor of biology at California State University Northridge, made a motion to accept all of the original recommendations of the Hindu groups as approved by Dr. Bajpai’s committee, with the provision to go through the Witzel panel rejections of 58 one by one. This motion passed. The Commission then went through the 58 rejections, ultimately accepting only about a dozen.

(to be concluded)

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