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Tulsi Gabbard asks California education board to describe Hinduism accurately, urges to include the ‘positive contributions’ made by Hindu women

Being the first and only serving Hindu-American member of Congress, Gabbard claimed that she has dedicatedly worked towards encouraging equality, pluralism and diversity

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Tulsi Gabbard. Image Source: nbcnews.com
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  • In a letter head of their final hearing, on July 8, Gabbard has insisted that the board should ensure both the identity and the history of the religion are restored
  • In addition she also asked the education board to include the key roles women have played in ancient history and Hindu society at large
  • She has also asked the education board to depict the caste-system positively

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever elected to U.S. Congress, has urged a California based education board to define Hinduism accurately in their text books and give the religion its due credit.

The 35-year-old Hindu-American politician and the representative of Democratic Party from Hawaii since 2013, has asked the board not to describe the religion in the wrong light as ‘religions of ancient India.’

Californian education board is in its last phase of revising and updating the K-12 History-Social Science syllabus for public schools.

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In a letter head of their final hearing, on July 8, Gabbard has insisted that the board should ensure both the identity and the history of the religion are restored.

She has stressed that all inaccurate and wrong references related to Hinduism like the phrase, “religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism” must be removed.

In the letter Gabbard said, “Replacing Hinduism with the term ‘religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism’ is not only inaccurate, but it will cause confusion for students and teachers alike,” reported DNA.

Tulsi Gabbard administering the oath of office on Bhagvad Gita. Image Source: The Hindu
Tulsi Gabbard administering the oath of office on Bhagavad Gita. Image Source: The Hindu

In addition, she also asked the education board to include the key roles women have played in ancient history and Hindu society at large.

She wrote, “While it is important to discuss the existence of patriarchies in ancient civilisations, it is also critical to discuss the positive contributions and unique roles played by women in those societies,” she noted.

“In the context of Ancient India, Hindu women were able to perform their own religious rites and also authored the Vedas, Hinduism’s sacred texts,” Gabbard added.

She has also asked the education board to depict the caste-system positively and added that though caste-based discrimination is a reality but the present description “goes against the essence of Hindu teachings and scriptures, which posit that divinity is inherent in all beings.”

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Being the first and the only serving Hindu-American member of Congress, Gabbard claimed that she has dedicatedly worked towards encouraging equality, pluralism, and diversity.

Meanwhile, around two dozen Indian-American organizations have also sent a letter to the board, requesting it no teach Hinduism in an “outdated, inaccurate and stereotyped manner.”

– prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Hinduism is practised by million people. To show positive attitudes will increase followers of Hinduism.

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California Cuts Coffee Off From Cancer Causing Chemicals

The state’s action rejects that ruling.

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A posted Proposition 65 warning sign is seen on display at a coffee shop in Burbank, Calif., March 30, 2018.
A posted Proposition 65 warning sign is seen on display at a coffee shop in Burbank, Calif., March 30, 2018. VOA

California officials, having concluded coffee drinking is not a risky pastime, are proposing a regulation that will essentially tell consumers of America’s favorite beverage they can drink up without fear.

The unprecedented action Friday by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to propose a regulation to clear coffee of the stigma that it could pose a toxic risk followed a review of more than 1,000 studies published this week by the World Health Organization that found inadequate evidence that coffee causes cancer.

The state agency implements a law passed by voters in 1986 that requires warnings of chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. One of those chemicals is acrylamide, which is found in many things and is a byproduct of coffee roasting and brewing present in every cup of joe.

Win for coffee industry

If the regulation is adopted, it would be a huge win for the coffee industry, which faces potentially massive civil penalties after recently losing an 8-year-old lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court that could require scary warnings on all coffee packaging sold in California.

Judge Elihu Berle found that Starbucks and other coffee roasters and retailers had failed to show that benefits from drinking coffee outweighed any cancer risks. He had previously ruled the companies hadn’t shown the threat from the chemical was insignificant.

The state’s action rejects that ruling.

“The proposed regulation would state that drinking coffee does not pose a significant cancer risk, despite the presence of chemicals created during the roasting and brewing process that are listed under Proposition 65 as known carcinogens,” the agency said in a statement. “The proposed regulation is based on extensive scientific evidence that drinking coffee has not been shown to increase the risk of cancer and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.”

A barista pours steamed milk into a cup of coffee at a cafe in Los Angeles, Sept. 22, 2017. State health officials proposed a regulation change Friday that would declare coffee doesn't present a significant cancer risk, countering a California court ruling.
A barista pours steamed milk into a cup of coffee at a cafe in Los Angeles, Sept. 22, 2017. State health officials proposed a regulation change Friday that would declare coffee doesn’t present a significant cancer risk, countering a California court ruling. VOA

Unprecedented move

Attorney Raphael Metzger, who won the court case on behalf of The Council for Education and Research on Toxics, said he was shocked the agency would move to nullify the court decision and undermine its own report more than a decade ago that drinking even small amounts of coffee resulted in a significant cancer risk.

“The takeaway is that the state is proposing a rule contrary to its own scientific conclusion. That’s unprecedented and bad,” Metzger said. “The whole thing stinks to high hell.”

The National Coffee Association had no comment on the proposed change. In the past, the organization has said coffee has health benefits and that the lawsuit made a mockery of the state law intended to protect people from toxics.

Scientific evidence on coffee has gone back and forth over many years, but concerns have eased recently about possible dangers, with some studies finding health benefits.

Big Coffee didn’t deny that acrylamide was found in the coffee, but argued it was only found at low levels and was outweighed by other benefits such as antioxidants that reduce cancer risk.

Coffee beans
Coffee beans, Pixabay

Congress

The state agency’s action comes about a week after bipartisan bills were introduced in both houses of Congress to require science-based criteria for labels on food and other products. One of the sponsors, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon, alluded to the California coffee lawsuit as an example of misleading warnings.

“When we have mandatory cancer warnings on a cup of coffee, something has gone seriously wrong with the process,” Schrader said in a news release. “We now have so many warnings unrelated to the actual health risk posed to consumers, that most people just ignore them.”

The lawsuit against Starbucks and 90 companies was brought by the tiny nonprofit under a law that allows private citizens, advocacy groups and attorneys to sue on behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties for failure to provide warnings.

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as Proposition 65, requires warning labels for about 900 chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects.

Also read: What Does Your Coffee Say About You?

The law has been credited with reducing cancer-causing chemicals, but it has been criticized for leading to quick settlement shakedowns and vague warnings that are often ignored. (VOA)