India map

School textbooks related controversies, it appears, aren’t unique to India. According to a petition being promoted by Prof Vamsee Juluri, Prof Ramesh Rao and others a ‘small group of South Asia studies faculty recently asked the California Board of Education to change the History Social Science Frameworks (Syllabus) so that the word “India” will be removed and replaced with “South Asia.”’

Interestingly, while the South Asia studies faculty lobby apparently want to remove all geographical references to “India” they do want to retain it in places where Hinduism is being referred to. That means Hinduism would be referred to as “Indian religion”. Here is the relevant section of the petition:

What is even more absurd and self-contradictory in their recommendations is their suggestion (which is one of the changes you seem to have accepted) that “India” be removed in all references to the past, but then used again in phrases like “ancient Indian religion” – the new phrase being used to replace the term “Hinduism.” Is this the kind of logic and rigor that students of California, the high-tech capital of the world, are going to be taught? Are teachers going to be expected to tell their students, “Ok, class, in ancient South Asia (not ancient India), the people practiced the religion of ancient India (not Hinduism)“?

The petition asks as to how “india” would be an inaccurate name for, well, India if the term has been in use for at-least two thousand years, i.e. in ancient Greek and Roman times. Asking whether native Americans would now be referred to as “American South Asians”, the petition wonders if the US landmass before 1776 would also be referred to as the “Northern Western Hemispherical Landmass”!

The petition further asks: ‘What gives a few professors unable to distinguish between high-theory speculations in the university classroom and the reality lived and fought for by over a billion people, nearly one-sixth of the human race, the right to try and decimate one’s right to one’s own name? Is it not intellectual arrogance?’

The petition which has now collected over 1,500 signatures in a day ends with an appeal to “Let “India” remain “India” and “Hinduism” remain “Hinduism,” and respect reality at least that much”

You can find the petition here.

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