READ YOUR CHILDREN’S TEXTBOOKS

Sarita Sarvate’s article, “Politics in Education” (India Currents, June 2006) confused us. On the one hand Sarvate agrees that California textbooks do not have adequate or accurate information about India. On the other hand, attempting to correct the textbooks is politics, in her opinion.

The writer herself was moved to write to the School Board but got too busy to do so. She is fortunate she did not take any action, otherwise she herself would have been labeled a Hindu fanatic, or accused of having a Hindutva agenda.

For her information, Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) is a group of parents committed to public education, despite being very busy with careers, families, and life in general. These parents spearheaded the attempt to correct inaccuracies and negative stereotyping in textbooks that thousands of students read every year. Along the process, many non-HEF parents joined hands with them.

This is the first time that Hindu parents have united together to take such an action rather than sit on their haunches and whine. We are thankful to these parents who have spent months studying all sixth-grade textbooks and filtering out inaccuracies and insults like “Goddess Kali is bloodthirsty and cruel,” “The monkey king Hanuman loved Rama so much that it is said that he is present every time Ramayana is told. So look around—see any monkeys?” The God of other religions is spelled with a capital G, but not the Hindu God. The list goes on … The writer probably knows this if she has read her children’s books.

The passages about other religions are either written by people who practice that religion, or they are consulted about the contents. Hinduism is the only religion whose content is written very critically from a “scholar’s” viewpoint.

I wish the writer had researched the reasons for the lawsuit and the long process of textbook correction before forming her opinion that this effort was politically motivated.

Creating special education quotas for minorities may be politics, vote bank politics. We hope Sarvate will take issue with that. We sincerely hope other parents also take the time to read their children’s textbooks and point out inaccuracies to the teachers, schools, and schools boards. Otherwise our children and those from other cultures will continue to be ignorant of the positives of India and Hinduism.

Sanjana and Deepak Prabhakar,
San Jose, Calif.

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JUDGE HISTORIOGRAPHY ON ITS MERITS

“The Last Word” by Sarita Sarvate in your June 2006 issue (“Politics in Education”) includes much that cannot be permitted to stand as the last word. While I’m concerned about the accuracy and usefulness of school textbooks, and am glad that there has been some resolution of the issue concerning Indian history in California textbooks, I’m disturbed by the explicit anti-Semitism in her article.

The Anti-Defamation League is a civil rights organization, and emphatically not some kind of front for a Jewish conspiracy to control … well, we’ve heard it all before, but mainly from the mouths of Dr. Goebbels and his more recent White Pride progeny.

Historiography is not the exclusive province of any ethnic group, and should, of course, be judged on its own merits. The British were not at all the only historians of the Raj or of India, and lumping all British scholars together as “tainted” leaves no room for intellectual discernment on any basis other than race, an issue that seems to crop up with disturbing regularity in Sarvate’s article.

Sarvate laments that “politics has entered the education arena” as if this were a new phenomenon. This is astonishing naiveté from someone who claims to have read The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly for 25 years, as I have. She also disapproves of “revisionist history” as though history, among all human disciplines, is uniquely exempt from the need for constant rethinking and revision based on vigorous investigation, new evidence, and free debate.

Raphael Shevelev, El Cerrito, Calif.

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SIMPLE LIVING

Your thoughts on consumerism in America and elsewhere came at the most opportune time in the June issue of India Currents. June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day under the auspices of UNO.

Consider this: about 4 percent of world’s population lives in the United States but consumes 40 percent of the world’s resources. Every American needs to think about it because if we ignore this fact now, sooner or later we are heading towards doom.

Landfills, clean water, and clean air will pose major challenges to human habitation. We have almost run out of land for horizontal growth hence vertical growth is the only option and one can see plenty of it in the form of high-rise buildings and parking garages.

We have already caused irreparable damage to Mother Earth by taking more and more while in return trashing it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by environmental problems, a few actions towards a greener life can make a difference: reduce, reuse, buy smart, think green, recycle, and conserve.

In the words of a wise Native American, Chief Seattle, “This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Ashok Malik, Sunnyvale, Calif.

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DEMOCRACY TAKING A WRONG TURN?

The Indian democracy appears to be taking a wrong turn. For the last few years, the political parties of India, rather than following the constitution, have been abusing democratic rights to gain cheap publicity.

A few political leaders, including Narendra Modi of Gujarat, are using their political power to suppress the democratic voice of the general public. When some social leaders, including Aamir Khan, raised their voices to demand full compensation for thousands of poor people who have lost their land and livelihood to the Narmada Dam, rather than hearing the protests peacefully, the government used itspolitical power to suppress the voice of opposition and systematically punished them. It is un-democratic to use the government machinery and power to ban the screening of a movie of Aamir Khan simply because he has raised his voice against the government.

It is silly for the national political parties to declare India Bandh to lower the gas prices, stopping businesses and transportation, thus creating hardship for millions of people and destroying millions of rupees worth of public property.

In the last few days, political mobs have destroyed the offices and furniture of income tax offices in India, only because the I.T. department has asked clarification from Amitabh Bachchan about his properties. Bachchan may be the greatest Indian film star, but still he has to answer to the authorities.

Similarly, the Indian government is keeping silent on many burning issues, including the Babri Masjid case and Gujarat riots case, letting the Supreme Court resolve it and take the blame. Even the Supreme Court of India sometimes tries to poke its nose into some hot political issues which belong in the sphere of the government.

As NRIs, we are responsible to see that our motherland progresses in the right direction and democracy does not get detracted by a few power-hungry politicians. The friends of BJP, Congress, and SSP should not close their eyes and allow politicians to injure or bleed our democracy.

Zen S. Bhatia, Ontario, Calif.

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CORRECTIONS

Aniruddh Chawda’s review of the film Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (India Currents, May 2006) erroneously credits the cinematography to Nitish Roy. The cinematographer of the film is Raaj A. Chakravarti.

In Ravi Chandra’s article, “Anger: the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful” (India Currents, June 2006) the author’s website was listed incorrectly. The correct URL is www.sfpsychiatry.com.

We regret the errors.

Editor

Write India Currents Letters, P.O. Box 21285, San Jose, CA 95151, email editor@indiacurrents.com, or fax (408) 324-0477.

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