Sunday October 21, 2018

India or South Asia – The HAF campaign

“Early Civilizations of India” or “Early Civilizations of South Asia”

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There’s an ongoing debate in California over how to portray ancient India in academic curricula for grades 6 and 7. Some want it to be South Asia while others are insisting on renaming it to India. However the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) wants the whole region to be called as India.

  • The debate is all about whether the region which comprises of modern-day India, Pakistan and Nepal should be referred to India or as South Asia.
  • This debate over Indian subcontinent is evolving into a strong fight. Depicting the fastest-growing Asian population in the United States this can be seen as a reflection of ongoing transformation in California’s population.
  • Various petition drives and social media campaigns such as #DontEraseIndia have been triggered by this raging issue. Students believe that anything other than India will be like erasing their Indian heritage.
South Asian culture, Wikimedia commnons
South Asian culture, Wikimedia commons
  • Tom Admas (Deputy Superintendent of the California Department of Education) said that they want children of California to understand all the religious groups.
  • Mentioning to the fact that in universities such as Harvard the term South Asia is used for the academic unit dealing with the Indian subcontinent, Political scientists (current scholars of India) have preferred to use the term South Asia rather than India.
  • Nathan Glazer (one of the sociologist professors at Harvard) said “They could not conceive of it as South Asia. They knew it as a distinctive civilization, stretching from the Indus to the Ganges, from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, with its own ancient languages, and classic texts and religions descended from them. He further elucidates that South Asia is being used to avoid offending to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Hindu American Foundation (HAF) wants the whole region to be called as India and insists on explaining the caste system as a part of the region, not as a Hindu practice. According to them, the caste system is not universally accepted in India.
  • However, a group of scholars has challenged HAF the historical accuracy of their view. According to the former group, HAF is trying to sanitize any link between Hinduism and Castes. Therefore, they want it to be renamed as South Asia.

Related article :Top 10 TV series showcasing Indian culture

  • Vidhima Shetty (a high school student) further says names are what define us people and using the term South Asia is like asking us to change our name. Removing India as a term from the textbooks leaves Indian-American children with no ethnic or cultural identification to turn to. When we acknowledge ourselves as South Asians, us Hindus are forced to re-identify ourselves as something we are not
  • Almost 2.5 million Indian Hindus live in the United States. This textbook debate arose when the United States Instructional Quality Commission introduced a new framework for the Kindergarten to the Class 12th social science curriculum.
  • Intellectuals are worried because the textbooks that are made on California’s framework are followed elsewhere as well. The commission has also heard from Filipino, Korean and Mexican advocates.
South Asia definition, Wikimedia commons
South Asia definition, Wikimedia commons
  • Suhag Shukla, an executive director of the HAF who also initiated the social media campaign said “Early Civilizations of India” could be “Early Civilizations of South Asia”. This is an issue not only about accuracy but also cultural competency. HAF was not trying to deny the fact that caste exists, but arguing only that tying it to Hinduism was unfair. Every religion has some form of caste and discrimination
  • Another statement came from Mr. Hansen that “This group has a lot of interest in calling everything Hindu and Indian so that it can equate modern-day India with historic roots. But it’s absurd. It would be like calling Ancient Rome Italy. Our duty is to make sure that the history is keeping with the scholarly research rather than give into what a particular group wants “.
  •  Recently a statement came from Mr. Adams that “In the midst of the back-and-forththe commission is trying to strike a balance.

Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself. Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen

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  • Archita aggarwal

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)