India-Americans have expressed concern over the negative portrayal of Hinduism and India in the proposed school textbooks in California. According to Shantharam Nekkar, the director of Hindu Education Foundation USA (HEF), many school textbooks in the United States continue to portray Indian civilisation using orientalist narratives.
"It is disappointing to see that even after a decade of building awareness by the Hindu-American community, textbooks especially by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), McGraw-Hill, Discovery and National Geographic continue to use orientalist narratives to portray Indian civilisation," Nekkar said. He made the statement at a public hearing conducted by the California Department of Education (CDE) at Sacremento on Thursday.
The Indian-American community in the US, for the past several years, has been battling to remove various inaccuracies and myths about Hinduism from school textbooks in the country.
The State of California states that it is mandatory that all the textbooks are based on the framework laid down by the department of education.
The textbook framework was, however, revised last year in the wake of various controversies. It was reported that several academics attempted to replace India with South Asia in the school textbooks.
The US education department has made various updates to the framework over the past two years, based on inputs by scholars, students and the community members, mentioning Hindu concepts like Yoga and Dharma, Sages Vyasa and Valmiki and achievements of India in the spheres of science and technology.
However, the Hindu groups in the state have pointed out that many of the changes made by the education department have not been reflected in the students' textbook drafts.
"Some publishers continue to single out and denigrate Hinduism while ignoring new additions to the framework that can help present Indian civilisation on par with other civilisations and cultures," said Sharat Joshi, a parent from San Jose, according to PTI. "Negative portrayal of Hinduism has led to several instances of bullying of Hindu children in classrooms," he added.