On 28 March 2016, the Hindu organisation the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh posted a tweet to its official Twitter page: “The leftist scholars’ bid to undermine India’s glorious identity was foiled by young Hindu activists and HEF”—the Hindu Education Foundation, a US-based Hindu group–“in California, USA.” Another tweet, posted a few minutes later, added: “Congrats to Hindu activists to successfully oppose & contest the suggestion to replace 'India' by 'SouthAsia' in text books in USA.”
These messages concerned a recent meeting in Sacramento, the capital of the large US state of California. A few months earlier, in January, California’s board of education had asked the public to suggest revisions to the History-Social Science Framework, a teaching guide that outlines the social-studies curriculum for the state’s government-run schools. The Framework’s South Asia-related material proved especially controversial; over 600 of the roughly 1,500 total suggested edits pertained to the subcontinent, although well under a tenth of the Framework does. On 24 March, a crowd of about 100 people—most of them connected to South Asian communities—gathered to watch a subject-matter committee, a group of educational administrators appointed by the board of education, deliberate on the revisions.
The authors of the South Asia-related edits fell into two broad camps. The first consisted of organisations such as the RSS-lauded HEF; the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), an advocacy organisation; and the Uberoi Foundation, a religious-studies group that promotes awareness of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. These groups proposed revisions to rectify what they perceive as a culturally insensitive portrayal of Hinduism. On the other side were the “leftist scholars” the RSS referenced: the South Asia Faculty Group, an interdisciplinary committee of fifteen South Asianist academics, who submitted a lengthy review of the Framework. A coalition of anti-caste activist groups supported the faculty group. Though the subject-matter committee rejected most of the Hindu groups’ changes and accepted most of the faculty group’s, its decisions are only recommendations presented to California’s board of education, which is expected to make final decisions on the edits in May.