It might seem a bit arcane – but debate has erupted in California over curriculum on the India's history. The dispute centers on whether the region that includes modern-day India, Pakistan and Nepal should be referred to as India or as South Asia, to represent the plurality of cultures there — particularly because India was not a nation-state until 1947. Some groups insist the entire area under dispute to be referred to as India.
It also touches on how the culture of the region is portrayed, including women's role in society and the vestiges of the caste system.
In California, a committee is entrusted to write history, which is at the center of a raging debate over how to tell the story of South Asia as it tries to update textbooks and revise curriculums for Grades 6 and 7. The issue has prompted petition drives, as well as a #DontEraseIndia social media campaign and a battle of opinion pieces.
“We have a lot of people engaged in this because we have such a vibrant, diverse state,” said Tom Adams, the deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education, adding, “What we’re really trying to do here is make sure that the children of California have a curriculum that helps them understand all these groups”.
“The board is confusing our cultural terms with geographical terms. By removing India as a term from the textbooks this leaves Indian-American children with no ethnic or cultural identification to turn to. When we acknowledge ourselves as South Asians, us Hindus are forced to re-identify ourselves as something we are not”, says a student.