Hindu group plans to file lawsuit over textbook changes

Foundation says state didn’t meet academic standards with edits

FREMONT — The Hindu American Foundation, one of three Hindu groups demanding revisions to California’s sixth-grade history textbooks, says it intends to file a lawsuit against the state over its approval process.

Mihir Meghani, a Fremont resident and president of the foundation, said the organization contends that some of the passages in the textbooks misrepresent ancient Indian history as it relates to the rights of women, the caste system and Hindu theology.

“Overall, the state is compelled to treat religions fairly in terms of the education of California students,” Meghani said. “What they failed to do is present Hinduism on par with other religions.”

On Wednesday, the state adopted revisions proposed by a subcommittee, but, in an apparent attempt to accommodate complaints by some Hindu groups, they also directed the publishers to make minor adjustments with regard to sacred Hindu texts and contested Aryan invasion theory.

In adopting the changes, Meghani said, the state failed to meet academic standards of fairness in its approval process. He also suggested that the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation, the two primary Hindu groups that lobbied the state, were treated differently than religious advocacy groups.

While the state adopted more than 70 percent of the edits proposed by the foundations, Meghani insisted the textbooks still fail to accurately portray ancient India and the roots of Hinduism.

“Some of the social problems are inappropriately labeled as part of Hinduism, like caste discrimination and rights of women,” Meghani said. “Other religions are not depicted like that. For example, the textbooks teach that Islam raises the status of women. And there’s no section on women and Christianity. We need balance.”

Meghani contends it’s a mistake to take India’s current social problems and include them as part of ancient history.

“India has a problem with caste discrimination, but most Hindus do not support the caste system,” Meghani said. “We need to address our internal dynamics and the fact we do have social problems. Although it’s not a part of Hinduism, it’s a part of our heritage and we need to deal with those issues effectively.”

State board members, who were meeting throughout the day in Sacramento, were unavailable for comment.


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The Daily Review, USA
Mar. 11, 2006
Jonathan Jones, Staff Writer
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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday March 11, 2006.
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