SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The state board of education is hearing from hundreds of Hindu students, many of whom say they’ve been bullied because of history lessons that perpetuate stereotypes about their homeland. So they’re urging educators to change those history books.
Siri Tantry and her friends were raised to be proud Hindus. But in school, they say some kids make fun of them for being part of India’s caste system, which divides Hindus into ranked categories.
“They were like, ‘oh you were part of the untouchables right? Are you the Lower class or the higher class?’ And at that moment I got really sad, depressed, frustrated,” said Siri Tantry.
The culprit? Their history books. The girls believe publishers misrepresent their religion and culture by only showing images of trash and poverty.
“I agree there’s negative stuff in each religion, each race in the world, but it’s not fair they exaggerate the negative stuff,” said 8th Grader Aparna Ganabadhi Basavapatna.
“Indians have invented so much. They’ve done so many great things,” said 8th Grader Anwita Satapathy.
They’re asking California educators to approve changes, highlighting India’s positive contributions to the world, from yoga to meditation to math. But scholars say that would only sanitize history.
Stanford Professor of Anthropology Thomas Hansen telling the New York Times, “Our duty is to make sure that the history is keeping with the scholarly research rather than give in to what a particular group wants.”
“We’re not saying that some of these things should not be mentioned, but they should be mentioned accurately with nuance,” said Director at Hindu American foundation Samir Kalra.
Hindu advocate Samir Kalra says he’s not only trying to shape the image of Hinduism, he wants to protect vulnerable Hindu children from bullying.
State educators won’t comment on what changes they’re considering. They’ll vote in November.