Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) and Vedic Foundation (VF), two premier Hindu organizations, worked on behalf of the Hindu community in California to provide factually correct information about ancient India and Hinduism in textbooks. They followed the CBE guidelines to provide detailed line-by-line comments on the textbook sections related to India and Hinduism.
The CBE hired an expert, Dr. Shiva Bajpai, Professor of History at CSU Northridge, to review the comments provided by these organizations. However, before the Board could approve the recommendations of Prof. Bajpai, a group of professors promoted by the Indo-European Research (IER) group petitioned the CBE to discard the comments of Hindu organizations. The CBE appointed three members of the politically-motivated IER group to review comments. Emails obtained later from the CDE, as part of the Discovery process in CAPEEM’s lawsuit, revealed that the academic group had acted under directions that originated at the CDE.
On December 2, the California Curriculum Commission reviewed all the comments provided by the group promoted by IER and rejected most of them, while affirming the recommendations of Prof. Bajpai. However, we understand that the SBE is siding with the IER group and has ignored the Hindu community’s input as well the recommendations of Prof. Bajpai and its own Curriculum Commission.
Contrary to the California state regulations, the CBE resorted to working with hostile members of the academia with questionable political and ideological motivations in clandestine, closed-door meetings while denying information about the proceedings to Hindu organizations and ignoring their queries.
Examples of Incorrect and Biased information:
The blatant errors on rudimentary facts indicate that the material was authored by non-experts whose knowledge about India and Hinduism is severely limited. However California and many other states in the US have a sizable Indian American population today. There is therefore every reason that the Hindu community should be treated on par with other communities by ensuring that the task of writing textbook sections related to their civilization involves Indian scholars who are experts in ancient Indian history and are also practicing Hindus.
Hindu organizations have pleaded with the CBE that negative portrayals of India and Hinduism are harmful to the proper development of the young minds of children of Indian ancestry. In many instances, children have been ridiculed and faced harassment by their classmates after such disparaging discussions took place in the classrooms (e.g. “see any monkeys?”). Unfortunately, the CBE has been unwilling to pay attention to the concerns of Hindu parents even after children spoke at the SBE meeting describing their experiences.
An Example of a Controversial Topic:
California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials (CAPEEM) has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of California against the California State Board of Education and the California Department of Education. The complaint is about the civil rights of Hindus and Hindu children, the derogatory portrayal of Hinduism & Ancient Indian Civilization and the violation of Federal laws and statutes.
The civil rights of Hindu school children are violated by advancing an inaccurate and derogatory picture of Hinduism in sixth grade school textbooks. The California Department of Education and State Board of Education meetings on the matter failed to address Hindu concerns. Hindus are being discriminated against.
Various Hindu groups and parents participated in this process since the Grade 6 History-Social Sciences textbooks came up for adoption last year. After being let down by the CDE and SBE, the parents decided to proceed legally to restore the civil rights of Hindus and eradicate discriminatory practices against them. Action is urgent as school children are the ones who will suffer damage due to the derogatory presentation in the textbooks. Many students have spoken to the CDE and SBE about their experiences in the classroom and the complete disconnect between their school curriculum on Hinduism and what they know and practice at home.
CAPEEM has retained Venkat Balasubramani to represent its interests. Venkat is an attorney who has worked in the past with public interest groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on civil rights matters.
What needs to be done?
In spite of Swami Vivekananda’s observations in 1893 (see end), the education system still needs to be changed. This is the real battle that is being fought in California. We are counting on you for funds. Please donate generously.
The textbooks that will soon be printed will contain derogatory material about Hinduism. These books are not only going to be used in California for the next few years but will also influence the contents of textbooks in other states.
Though our attorney is providing us services at a much reduced cost, our expenses may go up to $150,000. We are counting on your donations. If you have already donated, please accept our sincere thanks. If you have not done so, please do today. We hope you consider this as an investment for our future generations and will support us to the full extent possible.
CAPEEM is in the process of obtaining tax exemption. It may take several months before we get official approval. However, tax exemption is retroactive once approved.
You can donate in several ways:
You can send a check directly to CAPEEM. Please write a check in favor of CAPEEM and mail it to our address.
You can also pay online at CAPEEM’s website – http://www.capeem.org/donate.
To learn more about the lawsuit and the complaint, please visit www.capeem.org.
Thank you very much for your kind support. Please ask others to become a member and donate. Do call or write to us with any queries or suggestions.
Swami Vivekananda on calumnies heaped over Hinduism and Hindu civilization by foreign missionaries: “What is meant by those pictures in the school-books for children where the Hindu mother is painted as throwing her children to the crocodiles in the Ganga? The mother is black, but the baby is painted white, to arouse more sympathy, and get more money. What is meant by those pictures, which painted a man burning his wife at a stake with his own hands, so that she may become a ghost and torment the husband’s enemy? What is meant by the pictures of huge cars crushing over human beings? I have heard one of these gentlemen preach in Memphis that, in every village of India, there is a pond of the bones of little babies… What have the Hindus done to these disciples of Christ that every Christian child is taught to call the Hindus ‘vile’ and ‘wretched’ and the most horrible demons on earth?” Swami Vivekananda, The Complete Works, Vol. IV (1945 ed.)