Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hindutva Outfits Lose California Textbooks Battle

Indian RSS-backed Hindutva outfits have suffered a major setback in a decade-long war to insert their version of South Asian history in California textbooks, according to media reports.

Whitewash Of Indian History: 

After recent successes in India,  the right-wing Hindu groups are now attempting to whitewash Indian history taught in the United States. They want to see California textbooks (1) deny India's history of caste-based oppression, (2) reject separate Sikh identity,  and (3) claim India's monopoly over the Indus Valley Civilization which now belongs to areas located in Pakistan.

Akhand Bharat Map in Indian Textbooks

The latest battle saw South Asian Faculty Group that includes scholars from Stanford, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and UCLA, among others, arrayed against Hindutva advocates like  Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies and the Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF).

South Asia Faculty Group has called for "India" be replaced with "South Asia" in some places because the Indus Valley Civilization sites are now located in Pakistan, according to Los Angeles Times.

Opposition to the right-wing Hindu groups also came from  American Dalit-led Ambedkar Association of California,  Sikh Coalition,  Indian Muslim Council, Alliance for Justice and Accountability and the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action.  Shri Ravidassia gurdwaras (places of worship) from Rio Linda, Sacramento, Fremont and Yuba City, California, also opposed the changes.

Defending the Indian caste system, DCF leader, Shiva Bajpai, calls the caste system “beneficial.” “In every society some people are at the bottom of the economic scale,” he wrote in a paper submitted to the California textbook board. “Other societies solved this problem by enslaving people; [t]he caste system actually offered many advantages.”

Non-Hindu Groups' Opposition: 

"This is not just a California issue,” says Harjit Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s community development manager. “What happens in California will set a precedent for other states to follow. The accuracy of our history is at stake for the entire nation."

Thenmozhi Soundarajan, an organizer with the Ambedkar Association of California and Dalit History Month who opposes the changes said, "They (Hindutva groups) have already won in Virginia and Texas. A win in California would mean a change to all textbooks.”

Hindu Nationalists' Global Power: 

Right-wing Hindu groups are now increasingly flexing their muscles around the world, including the United States.

India's top Hindu Nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has gone global with shakhas (branches) in 39 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and several Islamic middle eastern nations, according to Indian media reports.

In the United States alone, the RSS has 146 active chapters spread over all 50 states, according to Satish Modh who has been associated with RSS work abroad for over 25 years.

While shakhas in India take place in open public spaces, most shakhas meet on university campuses on hired parking lots in the US, says Modh.  Most overseas shakhas are held once a week. In London, they are held twice a week. The UK has 84 shakhas.

RSS in US:

A US report entitled "Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Non-Profit Groups" disclosed the following findings regarding the strength and nature of the Hindu nationalist movement in the United States:

 a. Over the last three decades, a movement toward Hinduizing India--advancing the status of Hindus toward political and social primacy in India-- has continued to gain ground in South Asia and diasporic communities. The Sangh Parivar (the Sangh "family"), the network of groups at the forefront of this Hindu nationalist movement, has an estimated membership numbering in the millions, making the Sangh one of the largest voluntary associations in India. The major organizations in the Sangh include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

b. Hindu nationalism has intensified and multiplied forms of discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights organizations, and U.S. governmental bodies.

c. India-based Sangh affiliates receive social and financial support from its U.S.-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA. The Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party - USA (OFBJP) is active as well, though it is not a tax-exempt group.


While the right-wing Hindu groups have lost this battle to alter textbooks in the United States, it is unlikely that the RSS-affiliated groups will give up this fight for long. But, for now, California’s State Board of Education is scheduled to meet on May 29, 2016 when it is expected to ratify the South Asian Faculty Group's changes opposed by Hindutva outfits.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Dalit Victims of Indian Apartheid

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Global Power of Hindutva

Indus Valley Civilization


Man of Action said...

Absurd move. I don't know whether Riaz will approve my comment for display or not though.

Sikh culture is separate? Our origin is India and our culture is "Indian" first.
Most a baseless step is denying India's right over culture of that territory which have been stick to us for thousands of years!
Despite of fact that those countries have no identity.

Well Mr. Riaz, I have researched over the topic and problem isn't as big as you are claiming.

Yet most irritating thing is there word "South Asia". This is called"Indian" subcontinent for some solid reason which Pakistanis call myth because it will shadow their remaining claims of identity.

Riaz Haq said...

MoA: "Sikh culture is separate? Our origin is India and our culture is "Indian" first."

The Sikh coalition is the best judge of that. It is a part of this debate as shown in the quotes from their rep in my post.


Anonymous said...


The picture above is what I have seen

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Modi's #yoga guru Baba Ramdev outrages #India with beheading remark. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-35968775 …

If you have a mental image of what a yoga guru does then it would probably tend towards promoting inner peace and good posture. It probably wouldn't include making public statements that it's only the rule of law that's holding them back from beheading thousands of people who don't chant their nationalist phrase of choice.
But just such a bloodthirsty remark has been made by the prominent Indian yoga teacher Baba Ramdev, making collective jaws drop and raising questions about how religious and patriotic sentiments are exploited in Indian political debate.
Ramdev is a successful modern yoga teacher - he's taught all over the world, been credited with re-popularising the discipline among India's young middle class, spoken at the UN, and even branched out into selling his own brand of noodles.

But in recent days, Indian twitter users have been using the hashtag #TalibaniRamdev to compare him to an Islamist extremist after he waded into a debate about a controversial phrase.
The phrase - "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" - means "Hail Mother India", and refers to the nation personified as a Hindu goddess. It's widely used as a statement of patriotism by the BJP, India's Hindu nationalist ruling party. Some politicians have called for all students to be taught the phrase in school.
But some Muslim clerics say it goes against the Islamic belief that there is only one God, and they're trying to stop the phrase being imposed. In March, a prominent Muslim leader said he would never utter the slogan "…even if you put a knife to my throat", and a few days later another politician from the party was suspended from the state assembly in Maharashtra after refusing to repeat it.
Debate on the slogan has raged ever since, with one BJP politician saying those who refused to hail Mother India, whatever their religion, should have no right to remain in the country.
But Baba Ramdev escalated the rhetoric even further when he spoke at a meeting on Sunday, organised by the right wing Hindu organisation RSS with the aim of promoting community harmony. Ramdev made it very clear that only respect for the rule of law was restraining him from beheading anyone who disrespected Bharat Mata. "If someone says that he won't chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai even if his head is chopped off, I want to say there is a rule of law and we respect the constitution, otherwise we can cut hundreds and thousands of heads," Ramdev said in remarks that were filmed and later posted on YouTube.
His outspoken comments have caused outrage in a country where many have commented on a rise in intolerance and bigotry. Last year 200 academics signed a letter saying that the current atmosphere in India encouraged "greater hostility and aggression, especially against religious and caste minorities."

r_sundar said...

Hmmm.... Why only a few countries...Why not add the entire globe?
Cracks me up each time, how desperate folks are to put the inherently pluralistic Hinduism in bad light.
Before you pay attention to these websites - which can publish any conspiracy theories they want, check the official curriculum of Pakistan school text book, which openly teach hatred against anything but (sunni)islam.
No wonder Pakistani society is one of the least tolerant in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

sundar: "No wonder Pakistani society is one of the least tolerant in the world. "

Pakistan is home to one of the world's fastest growing Hindu populations.

Contrary to the sensational media headlines about declining Hindu population in Pakistan, the fact is that Hindu birth rate is significantly higher than the country's national average. Although Hindus make up only 1.9% of Pakistan's population, it is among the worlds fastest growing Hindu communities today, growing faster than the Hindu populations in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.


CanadianBoy said...

r_sundar said...
"Cracks me up each time, how desperate folks are to put the inherently pluralistic Hinduism in bad light."

The Shudra and delites agree with you there, and ofcourse muslims who are even below these lower hindu castes.

Riaz Haq said...

#African-American Business Traveler's View: #India ranks way up there among the most ‘#racist’ http://bodahub.com/american-says-india-most-racist/ … via @bodahub

In 2013, the Washington Post released a map based on a study by two Swedish economists that colour coded the map of the earth based on racist attitudes.

The study was simple: they asked people whether they would have a problem with a neighbour of another race. Only two nations – India at 43.5% and Jordan at 51.4% – scored over 40% in racial intolerance.

The question has since become increasingly relevant. As we have written about earlier, Bollywood actors have launched movements that aimed at extolling the beauty of dark skin, politicians have repeatedly made the point. There have been horrific race-motivated attacks on Africans just within the last year even!

Recently, the question was posed on Quora as to which was the most racist country in the world, and Dave Adali, an American, had a poignant and saddening answer to it.

“I am an African-American in the IT field and I have thus far had the good fortune to live and travel extensively throughout Western and parts of Eastern Europe and many countries in Asia. I have lived or traveled in the UK and most of the EU countries as well as Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and several other Asian countries including India.

Of all the countries I have been to, India ranks way up there among the most ‘racist’, IMHO. Indians aren’t so much ‘racist’ as they are intolerant. Indians discriminate against fellow citizens to a degree that I have NEVER encountered in ANY other country. Without a doubt, Indians are the the most color obsessed people I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. No doubt because of all that saturation advertisements for ‘Fair and Lovely’, ‘Fair and Handsome’ and all manners of skin-whitening creams, lotions, soaps etc. Even if you are 100% Indian, your fellow Indians might still discriminate against you on the basis of the color of your skin, which region of India you come from, what language you speak, your religion, your caste etc, etc.

If you are of obvious African ancestry, including African-American, you can find life really, really tough in India if you are going to be in India for a while. Indians can be such unabashed, in your face racists. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that oftentimes, lighter-skinned Indians despise darker-skinned Indians every bit as much as much as they despise us people of African ancestry. Apart from that, there is also considerable antipathy between North Indians and South Indians

Indians outside of India endlessly complain about the intolerance and racism they have to put up with in places like Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and even Africa. These very same Indians conveniently choose to ignore the fact that Indians themselves can be such pathological bigots against their fellow Indians, other Asians and especially people of African ancestry. `. In Amritsar, one of my best friends was Gyan, a Nepali whom I initially mistook for a Chinese. Indians disdainfully call him “Chinki” or “Bahadur”, which Gyan hated. As a matter of fact, Indian citizens from India’s North-Eastern states, who often have Chinese facial features are routinely referred to, usually disparagingly as ‘Chinkis’.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - BBC Pop Up: Blacks in #India face racism and #bigotry everywhere in #Indian society. #BJP #Modi


What is it like being black in India?
That's what BBC Pop Up wanted to find out after Benjamin Pratt, a student from Sierra Leone now living in India, told us that many African immigrants are victims of racism and prejudice.
BBC journalists Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey joined Benjamin on the streets of Delhi to find out more but ended up in a small village in the western state of Gujarat.
There they discovered a surprising and little-known culture alive and well.

Nabob of Lucknow said...

The Indus Valley Civilisation is vompletely different from the Hindu Ganga Jamni Civilisation ... religiously, linguistically and ethnically ... The Bull and the Sun were worshipped in the Indus Valley ... not the Cow ...

Riaz Haq said...

#India-born #British politician Lord Meghnad Desai says Koh-e-noor belongs to #Pakistan. http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/?p=512993 via @ePakistanToday

The Koh-e-Noor saga taken another interesting turn on Monday as Indian-born British politician said the coveted diamond actually belonged to Pakistan.

“If Koh-e-noor belongs to anybody, it belongs to Pakistan,” Lord Meghnad Desai said while speaking to India Today.

Referring to the 19th-century Sikh king Ranjit Singh, who had given the stone to the British, Lord Desai reasoned that since Singh’s seat was in Lahore, the diamond should go to Pakistan.

“Because his territory was mainly in, what is now Pakistan – in Lahore there is a Ranjit Singh museum – it will go back to wherever the Punjab kingdom had its seat and his seat was in Lahore. So I think if it belongs to anybody, it belongs to Pakistan,” he said.

Indian government said Tuesday that it will make all possible efforts to get back the Koh-e-Noor Diamond from Britain despite comments by New Delhi’s solicitor general that the priceless jewel should stay with the former colonial ruler.

India has repeatedly demanded that Britain return the 105-carat diamond, which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 and today sits on display as part of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

Read more: India backtracks, says will now try to reclaim Koh-i-Noor from UK

India’s solicitor general surprised many on Monday when he told the Supreme Court that his country should forgo its claims to the jewel because it was given to Britain as a gift by an Indian king in 1851, rather than stolen as many Indians today believe.

The ministry said the stone was a “valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history” and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to get it back.

A lawyer in Pakistan last year filed a court petition calling for the stone’s return.

The Koh-e-Noor is set in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth, the mother of the reigning monarch, at the coronation of her husband George VI in 1937, and was placed on her coffin at her funeral in 2002.

The Duchess of Cambridge, who last week visited India with her husband, Prince William, will wear the crown on official occasions when she becomes queen consort. William is second in line to the British throne.

Riaz Haq said...

Only 27% of Pakistanis identify themselves as Pakistanis first while 51% of Indians see themselves as Indians first. On the other hand, 43% of Pakistanis (vs 17% of Indians) say their religious identity comes first.

Three countries stand out in the way their populations think about self-identity. Spaniards are by far the most likely to identify with world citizenship (54%). For 56 per cent of Indonesians, belonging to their local community is the strongest defining identity. And for Pakistanis, a strong plurality (43%) identify first as a member of their religion.

The poll, conducted by GlobeScan among more than 20,000 people worldwide between December 2015 and April 2016, is being released as part of the BBC World Service Identity Season—a Spring season of broadcasts on the World Service’s 27 language services exploring stories about how people identify themselves around the world.

Among all 18 countries where this question was asked in 2016, the poll suggests more than half (51%) see themselves more as global citizens than citizens of their country, against 43 per cent who identify nationally. This is the first time since tracking began in 2001 that there is a global majority who leans this way, and the results in 2016 are driven by strong increases since 2015 in non-OECD countries including Nigeria (73%, up 13 points), China (71%, up 14 points), Peru (70%, up 27 points), and India (67%, up 13 points).


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani Observes from #India Side of #Wagah Border Amid #Indians' Bigoted Screams “Attack!” “rape their sisters!”


“I was not allowed to sit in the foreigner’s section, given that I didn’t look foreign, and I didn’t want to tell them that I was,” Saim Saeed writes in The New York Times. “This was ironic, given that — as a Pakistani sitting on the Indian side of the border — they would consider me to be even more foreign than most foreigners.”

“The spectacle that my friends and I had come to see was the border ceremony at Wagah that takes place between Pakistan and India every day at sundown,” Mr. Saeed writes. “The ceremony is as colorful, loud and grotesque an exhibition of nationalism that you will ever see.”

The soldiers — massive, seven-foot men brought in to out-measure their counterparts in a region where the average male height is 5 feet, 5 inches — shout, stomp and strut before a frenzied crowd as they lower the flags and shut the gate. The crowds do their part as massive speakers blare jingoistic anthems meant to drown out the noise from the other side. People dance, sing, flex their muscles and deride the soldiers across the border.

The Pakistani side has a novel spectacle — an old man wearing green robes runs from behind a pillar, stands right in front of the gate and waves a massive flag. The jeering crowd around me was shouting, “Attack!” and “Let’s rape their sisters!”

Completely by accident, I happened to be wearing a green shirt (the color of Pakistan and Islam), and I feared I would be found out. I ended up crying at the hatred shown by the people under the veneer of celebration.


The ceremony that I was now witnessing is more indicative of the similarities between Indians and Pakistanis than their differences. The people that were chanting “Pakistan Zindabad! Hindustan murdabad!” (Long live Pakistan! Death to India!) shared the same physical characteristics, language and clothing as the ones hurling their own imprecations on the other side of the line. They even insulted each other’s mothers and sisters using the same expletives. It seemed like they were shouting in a mirror.

So what is it that divides us so? Why do we hate each other so much that we’ve fought three declared wars, a fourth that was undeclared, and might even fight another?

The easy and perhaps most convenient answer is religion, but that is wrong. Pakistanis believe that being Muslim sets them apart from India, and so we create an identity for India, too; they are non-Muslim, or more specifically, Hindu. India is not, and has never been a completely Hindu country. The fact is that we don’t have any distinguishing characteristic on which to hang separate national identities. There is nothing to distinguish us from one another, save our passports, and those were given to us.

Each evening, at the end of the flag-lowering ceremony, the crowds of Indians and Pakistanis go back to the same homes, eat the same loaves of naan and sleep on the same charpoys. In the morning they drink the same yoghurt drink called lassi.

My friends and I are not any different.

Riaz Haq said...

Aakar Patel: "#Secularism is a fig leaf for #India. We’re more #Pakistani than we think". #Pakistan #Hindu #Muslim http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/aakarvani/secularism-is-a-fig-leaf-were-more-pakistani-than-we-think/ …

The decay of the Congress has produced a predictable, observable effect. It has revealed our majoritarian instinct, exposing it to the world, from which it had been hidden.
Our previous inauthentic assertions of secularism and tolerance are now gone. This change was of course the demand of the movement that brought Narendra Modi to power. It has produced an unintended (for the Hindu majority) consequence that we shall touch upon later.
The change being referred to is observable on two sides. First on the side of the state. Here the majoritarian impulse was restrained since 1947 under Congress which insisted on Nehruvian secularism as the cornerstone of our democracy. This may have initially been from belief but it later also came out of necessity. The Gandhi family’s Parsi, Italian, agnostic roots make them outsiders. They can hardly stand by anything other than tolerance of religious diversity.
State secularism was a top-down imposition on the Hindu upper class which was never enthusiastic about it.
The non-Congress formations at the Centre were dominated by socialists who subscribed to the same inclusive instinct. It showed in their uncomfortable partnerships with Hindutva. When Hindutva showed its inflexibility on first principles, these alliances broke nationally three times. At the state level, it happened more often.
We can accurately accuse these regional parties of hypocrisy. But it is true that they have never actively subscribed to Hindutva because they feel repelled by its aggressive, majoritarian thrust.
And so whether it was these socialists or the Congress that ruled Delhi, the nature of the state was not dissimilar. And even in opposition, the Congress was in the past big enough and influential enough to protect its legacy. Both at the Centre and in regional governments. No longer.
Today, it has become different, under a Hindutva government with an absolute majority. For the first time, the Indian state is comfortable expressing its majoritarian nature. The BJP government is echoing its constituency, and feels no shame in doing this. This is an observable fact. The resentment and anger that its voters feel against the appeasement of Muslims, the proselytisation by Christians and the mollycoddling of dalits and adivasis, all of this the government also feels.
The uncompromising nature of this sentiment has meant the government no longer reaches out to assure its weaker citizens that it has their interest also in mind. Today, when the state feels the hurt it will retaliate with violence.
One example will suffice: Ishrat Jahan. The state is openly justifying its murder of a citizen because it suspected her of mala fide intent. More interestingly, the media has backed this justification.
Elsewhere, the Hindu majoritarian instinct has always controlled the cultural space (it is why there is zero dalit, Muslim, adivasi representation in our popular culture — meaning the characters of film, television and advertising). This instinct is no longer suppressed by authority. Its consequences are no longer effaced, and not even an attempt is made to counter them, if only through platitudes.
.... We have revealed ourselves as being no different from Pakistanis, whose bigotry we used to juxtapose against our tolerance. A Pakistani poet wrote this about India:
“Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle
Ab tak kahan chhupe the bhai?
Woh moorkhta, woh ghaamarpan
Jis mein hum ne sadi ganwai
Aakhir pahunchi dwaar tumhaarey
Arre badhai, bohot badhai!”
I will not attempt a verse translation, but the lines say: ‘You turned out to be as stupid as us.’
Congratulations to us, indeed. Our true nature is finally out: we are not secular, we are Hindu.