Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tulsi Gabbard Asks California Education Board to Describe Hinduism Accurately | Global Indian | indiawestcom

Tulsi Gabbard Asks California Education Board to Describe Hinduism Accurately | Global Indian |

Tulsi Gabbard Asks California Education Board to Describe Hinduism Accurately

Tulsi Gabbard.jpg

WASHINGTON — Tulsi Gabbard, the first ever Hindu elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, has asked a California educational board to give Hinduism its due place in school textbooks and not to describe it inaccurately as “religions of ancient India.”
The California State Board of Education is in final stages of revising and updating the K-12 History-Social Science Framework for public schools.
In a letter ahead of their final hearing July 14, Gabbard, D-Hawaii, urged the board to preserve Hindu history and identity by restoring all references to “Hinduism” that were removed or replaced inaccurate phrases.
Just as other religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism are given their own separate and distinct space for discussion in the Framework, so should Hinduism, she stressed.
“Replacing Hinduism with the term 'religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism' is not only inaccurate, but it will cause confusion for students and teachers alike,” she said in her letter dated July 8, a copy of which was obtained by PTI.
In the letter, Gabbard also urged the board to acknowledge the positive roles played by women in Ancient Indian and Hindu society.
“While it is important to discuss the existence of patriarchies in ancient civilizations, it is also critical to discuss the positive contributions and unique roles played by women in those societies,” she noted.
“In the context of Ancient India, Hindu women were able to perform their own religious rites and also authored the Vedas, Hinduism's sacred texts,” she added. “The framework should thus acknowledge these historical facts when describing the roles of women in ancient Indian society.”
Gabbard asked the California Board to accurately represent the caste-system in the framework by not depicting it as a defining feature or a foundational religious belief of Hinduism.
“While caste-based discrimination is a reality that must be dealt with, it goes against the essence of Hindu teachings and scriptures, which posit that divinity is inherent in all beings,” she said.
Gabbard said she has worked actively throughout her many years of service to promote diversity, equality and pluralism.
“I firmly believe in the significance of creating an education system and textbooks that uphold these important American values,” she said.
In addition to Gabbard’s complaints of the Hinduism in textbooks, a group of 15 top American Muslim organizations has alleged that school textbooks are injecting “Islamophobic content” in the new curriculum.
“The injection of Islamophobic content into the teacher's manuals would inflame how student discussions are framed. Students, teachers and communities all suffer when the content is rigged to cause disruption,” the top Muslim American group said in a letter to the California State Board of Education.
“The bombardment of prejudicial ideas, from media outlets to candidates in the presidential election primaries, has left no one immune. Even the educators our children look up to are impacted by the hateful discourse,” the letter told the California board, which is considered to be very influential as its textbooks are followed and adopted in several U.S. states.
In the letter, the organizations alleged that, contrary to the treatment given to other religions, Islam has been introduced in the curriculum primarily under a narrative of war and conquest.
Prominent among them include the Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Northern California Islamic Council, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and Indian American Muslim Council.
“The curriculum text in its current form is prejudiced in its references to alleged forced conversions of non-Muslims to Islam, often when no such forced conversions are even reported in historical sources,” the letter said
Meanwhile, in another letter to the board, some two dozen Indian American organizations requested “fairness and equity” in the way Hinduism and Ancient India are taught in comparison to other world religions and civilizations.
“Hinduism and Indian history are taught to sixth and seventh graders in an outdated, inaccurate and stereotyped manner. The teachings and histories of other religions are highlighted positively, while Hindu teachings are oversimplified and inaccurate,” the letter said.
“Gender bias, subjugation and discrimination are only conflated with Hinduism, in spite of their presence in every religion's history. And Hinduism's pluralistic ethos, concept of spiritual unity of everyone and everything, and contributions of women are ignored,” the organizations said.Tulsi Gabbard Asks California Education Board to Describe Hinduism Accurately | Global Indian |

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