Will India be renamed as ‘South Asia’ in California textbooks?


It appears that California School textbooks have again landed in a controversy. A new petition launched by Professor Vamsee Juluri of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco states:“A small group of South Asia studies faculty recently asked the California Board of Education to change the History Social Science Frameworks so that the word “India” will be removed and replaced with “South Asia.” They believe that India did not exist before 1947 and want a stereotypical and concocted generalization like “South Asia” to be used for almost all discussions of Indian history before 1947.”

If the suggested edits are indeed included in the California textbooks, then students including children from Indian Diaspora, will be studying only about ‘South Asia’ without any reference to India as a unique geographical and cultural entity with a rich past and heritage. In other words,  Indian history and culture will be subsumed into a general category of ‘South Asia’, thus denying India its unique heritage.

Pointing out the absurdity of the suggested edits, the petition says: “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 urges the California Board of Education to “We urge you to reject all the changes pushed by the South Asia faculty group that attempt to erase India and Hinduism from California’s schools. Let “India” remain “India” and “Hinduism” remain “Hinduism,” and respect reality at least that much.

The petition, which has already gathered around 6500 signatures, has also been signed by academicians and scholars like Ramesh Rao, Vishal Misra, Madhu Kishwar, Yvette Rosser, Ramdas Lamb, Kausik Gangopadhyay, and Shalendra Sharma.

You can find the petition here.