How “India” won over “South Asia” in California’s textbooks? Lessons

By: Madhu Grandhi

I was one of the participants in support of having India re-instated in California School Textbooks.  This is how the proceedings went before the Commission. The Commission had jotted down the contested edits and went through them one by one painstakingly as to what the wording should be.

It was a real pleasure to see government in action and taking the topic seriously.  They chose, through prior discussion among themselves, to use Uberoi Foundation edits because they were succinct, addressed the issue point by point in a clear format, gave specifics as to why the edits should be there.  It was all about easy to understand and formatting. One should note that all commission members are not experts on this subject, so presentation in a form they can understand became very important; for example, they got confused with Jathi and Verna in one of the submissions and they did not have time to go in depth nor were they interested in it.

They moved some decisions to scholars opinions (who were not present).  Their objective was not  to get students or teachers bad material and cause confusion in class rooms.

Other submission from SSRFG?, or “Scholars for People”, though they said they read it, were not picked up for discussion infront of public, because it was repetitive and not as clear as Uberoi Foundation work.

LESSON 1:  Have to have Committee members and their credentials in mind when submitting, per committee they were not impressed with some submissions, they said they liked Uberoi format very much.They made the edits in front for public, the public conference room and annex were full, and so they accommodate the overflow in the large foyer with a Telecast at a very short notice, kudos to them.  So all could see/hear the edits the commission has chosen, rejected or reworded.  Then they let public speak, there were 200+ registrations, they said each one would get exactly 1 minute, no applause or booing.  They called on 10 speakers at time to line up.  The initial speakers were mostly from SAFG, since they had come early, organized with their own badges and prepared.  Each one went on how they have been treated by Hindus, what Modi was doing to other religions in India, blah, blah, blah.  It was absolutely nothing relevant with the text book statements, except for very few.  You could taste the hate and Dalits talking about how they are subjugated even today.  They were demeaning themselves without making a point as to what the commission was supposed to do.  They damaged their cause very badly.

LESSON 2: Organize your speakers and give each of them a topic so it will be like storytelling, since it is just 1 min per speakers, if we bunch up say 5 speakers and give them a thread.  Then it will be a like 5 minutes to get a point across and will be effective rather than each one rambling. One teenage girl talked about PM Modi killing her uncle in Gujarat and she is very distraught (she was very emotional too when speaking), so she wants to erase India from text books … Wow, what logic is it and what is the relevance to 6th grade text book? After about 50+ speakers, India supporters started to trickle in, very passionate talk but no substance except for few, there were lot of kids from 6th grade to college they were pleading that they needed identity with their religion and their parents or grandparents country and also portrayed it in a better light so they will not be bullied.  I could understand the children perspective.

LESSON 3:  When discussing history, it’s not your beliefs or passions, its facts to be presented properly.  Preferably with reason and both sides as to why it happened, times and conditions at that period.  Saying Dalits were not victimized and same kind of slavery happened else ware does not erase the fact.  How it came about and got abused and the current efforts to uplift is what need to be put in text books. The commission after hearing about 100+ people really got bored as there was repetition and no substantiation or confrontation to the edits they made prior to public speaking.  They did not want to listen to the rest of the people in the interest of time, since it was already 3.30 P.M.  Something happened and they said they will listen to the rest of them, 150 more.

LESSON 4: When public is given just a minute to present, we don’t need to have 100+ speak in favor or against, my proposal would be sequence 10 or 15 people and build a strong argument in a sequential fashion and then show the rest 100 people as show of hands.  The commission will appreciate and we get our point across.

LESSION 5: We need to see why the people at SAFG are so angry at India and try to make amends else it may grow like a weed and may not be a good for India.  The professors and scholars who purportedly supported SAFG should be exposed of their true intensions.  The edits from SAFG are ridiculous and blatantly biased.  My statement to commission was simple, will they rename the “East India Company”, that British established in 1600 as “East South Asia Company”, to be consistent? Since according to SAFG there was no India prior to 1947.

I think we need to understand what is going on with SAFG and its supporters.


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