Hindus, Sikhs Raise Concerns Over Textbook Changes

December 2, 2005

Source: Pacific News Service/India West


On December 2, 2005 India West reported, "Some Hindu and Sikh activists in the U.S. who have been trying in recent months to persuade the California Board of Education to adopt curriculum revisions in textbooks for elementary and middle school students say they are unhappy over the direction their efforts seem to have taken while on the home stretch. A clutch of academics and historians, who have just recently joined the debate, seems to have neutralized the gains the activists believe they had made. The academics weighed in with their views Nov. 8, which collectively dismiss many of the curriculum changes suggested over the past year by individual Hindus, as well as such organizations as the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Society. For example, one of the statements Hindu activists want deleted from a social science book is that Aryans were a 'part of a larger group of people historians refer to as the Indo-Europeans.' The activists assert Aryans were not a race, but a term for persons of noble intellect. The academics have urged that this statement not be removed... Writing on behalf of the academics, Michael Witzel, a Sanskrit professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., asserted that the groups proposing the changes have a hidden agenda. '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 area of expertise,' Witzel wrote to CBE president Ruth Green in [a] letter."