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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
  • 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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Hawaii Weighs First State in US to Ban Plastics Used at Restaurants

Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii's measure would make it the first to do so statewide

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Belinda Lau, manager of the Wiki Wiki Drive Inn takeout restaurant in Honolulu, holds a polystyrene foam box containing an order of roast pork, rice and salad, March 14, 2019. VOA

Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics used at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.

Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.

Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii’s measure would make it the first to do so statewide. The liberal state has a history of prioritizing the environment — it’s mandated renewable energy use and prohibited sunscreen ingredients that harm coral.

A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws.

The Hawaii efforts would be stricter than in California, which last year became the first state to ban full-service restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws, and broader than in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities that have banned some single-use plastics.

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Activists believe the foam container measure has a better chance of passing in Hawaii. VOA

“We have this reputation of setting the example for the world to follow, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” state Sen. Mike Gabbard, lead author of the more ambitious measure, said to the Senate. “Our state can once again take the lead in protecting our environment.”

Gabbard, father of Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, said 95 percent of plastic packaging worldwide is thrown out after being used once. In the U.S., 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown out every day, he said.

Discarded, slow-to-degrade plastic is showing up at sea, as in a massive gyre northeast of the Hawaiian islands, and on beaches.

Plastics also contribute to climate change because oil is used to make them, said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii manager for the Surfrider Foundation.

Eric S.S. Wong, co-owner of two fast-food establishments on Oahu, said not being able to serve food in plastic foam containers would drive up his costs at a time when he faces rising health insurance charges for his employees and a possible minimum wage hike that lawmakers also are considering.

He said he’ll have to raise prices.

“Now all of the sudden, your family’s $30 dining experience became $37 or $38,” Wong said.

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Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean. Pixabay

His Wiki Wiki Drive Inn takeout counter in Honolulu sells sandwiches, breakfast meals and Hawaii favorites like Loco Moco, which features white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and gravy.

A package of 200 foam boxes costs him $23, while the same number of biodegradable boxes would cost $57, he said.

Chris Yankowski of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, which represents 3,500 restaurants, said lawmakers are trying to do “too much too fast.”

Yankowski, who is also president of Triple F Distributors, argued that good alternatives to plastic products are not yet available. Hawaii’s cities and counties also don’t provide composting facilities, so there is no organized place to dispose of compostable containers that lawmakers say restaurants should use instead, he added.

“It’s almost like we want to do great things for the environment, but we’re not ready to handle it when we change it over,” Yankowski said.

The Hawaii Food Industry Association, which counts the state’s biggest supermarkets and convenience stores as members, initially opposed the foam container ban but now supports it.

The group said in written testimony that it’s encountered difficulties coping with varied local regulations and it wants the state to create a consistent standard. Two main counties — Hawaii and Maui — have already adopted plastic foam bans. Maui’s took effect on Dec. 31, while Hawaii’s takes effect on July 1.

The association still opposes the broader measure, which also would ban plastic garbage bags.

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A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws. Pixabay

The president of Island Plastic Bags, a Hawaii company that makes plastic bags, said the legislation would prohibit his company from selling trash bags to nursing homes and hospitals as well as restaurants and hotels.

Grocery stores wouldn’t be able to sell trash can liners, Adrian Hong said in written testimony. It would create a “public health crisis,” he said.

Gabbard said his proposal was in the early stages so lawmakers have time to address such concerns.

The state Senate has passed both bills. They still must get through several House committees and the full House before heading to the governor.

ALSO READ: Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

Cindy McMillan, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige, said he hasn’t stated a position on the measures yet.

Justin Macia, a pharmacist in Honolulu, said he would like people to use less plastic and stop using plastic foam entirely because of how long it takes to degrade. Cardboard containers would be a great alternative, he said.

“It’s definitely something that’s got to go,” he said, after eating a sandwich from a foam takeout box. (VOA)