Another Crushing Defeat of Hindutva forces in California Court

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Sep 1 21:59:52 UTC 2006


Sacramento, California, Sept. 1, 2006, 2:40 p.m. PST

As we have been predicting for long, the California court has ruled 
*against*  the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and *for* the State 
Board of Education (SBE)  and the California Department of Education 
(CDE) in all matters of the content of the current (2006) textbooks.

The judge sums up, in Legalese: ‘..  the Court has not found that the 
content of the textbooks challenged in this action violates applicable 
legal standards, the writ shall not include any provision requiring 
respondent [SBE/CDE] to rescind its approval of those textbooks or 
otherwise take steps to remove them from use.’

This denial of the HAF petition concerns all points regarding the caste 
system, position of women, description of Hindu gods/goddesses, and the 
so-called ‘Aryan invasion’ or  Aryan immigration.     (See HIGHLIGHTS 

Thus, the court has upheld the current version of the textbooks, 
already printed and in the school districts.

In addition, the court  has ordered the State Board of 
Education/Department of Education to come up, during a suitable period 
of time,  with  more detailed  rules for ALL future adoptions of 
textbooks. This does not affect the current textbooks (now in use for 
the next 6 years).

This  order will be very beneficial for future cases, as SBE/CDE are 
not required to accept any proposed edits, never have so in the past, 
and in fact have made a mistake bending over backwards for such groups. 
That for sure *will not* happen again.

In sum:   HAF, VF, and HEF have lost on all counts  as far as the 
textbooks are concerned. Their current printed version will stand.

Those who have fought this Hindutva onslaught since last November, even 
in the face of numerous  smear campaigns, are totally vindicated. As 
major smear campaigner Rajaram un-prophetically wished recently: Let 
the courts decide!

The court decision  also does not bode well for future Hindutva 
initiatives in other states.

My congratulations and warm thanks to all involved.

Michael Witzel


Quoted verbatim (except for my headings and a few [comments] ):

Court finds that the challenged texts comply with the applicable legal 

Petitioners  [HAF] claim that there are a number of significant 
inaccuracies .. The Court finds that petitioners have not demonstrated 
that respondent's [SBE/CDE] approval of the challenged texts should be 
invalidated on this basis  ..  the inaccuracies have been corrected in 
the final versions of the texts


The caste system is a historical reality, and indisputably was a 
significant feature of ancient Indian society.
..  it appears to the Court that to omit treatment of the caste system 
from the teaching of ancient Indian history would itself be grossly 

Just as the regulation does not require textbooks to ignore unpleasant 
historical realities, it does not require them to present such 
realities in an unnaturally positive light.  Moreover, nothing in the 
challenged texts uses the discussion of the caste system as a take-off 
point for comparing Hinduism unfavorably with other religions, or for 
advocating other religions over Hinduism.  In this respect, the texts 
therefore have satisfied the requirement of neutrality.


...  status of women in ancient Indian society, and their description 
of Hindu religious belief in numerous deities as multiple aspects of 
the absolute divinity.

These discussions appear on their face to be neutral, objective, 
dispassionate, factually accurate, not derogatory or accusatory in 
their tone, and not such as would instill prejudice against the Hindu 
religion or believers.  Such passages are descriptive and do not 
advocate certain religions over others.
..   The law does not insure against negative reactions or prejudices, 
it merely requires that the textbooks not instill them.  The challenged 
books meet that requirement

[Petitioners, HAF] have not demonstrated that the textbooks' 
description of Hindu theology are grossly inaccurate.

In the Court's view, the books broadly and accurately describe the 
outlines of Hindu religious belief, which is all the law requires.

..  the Court finds that the manner in which the books treat the Hindu 
religion does not violate this standard.

..  the Court finds nothing in the way of derogatory language or 
examples from sacred texts or other religious literature that could be 
classified as derogatory, accusatory or that would instill prejudice 
against the Hindu religion or its faithful

..  Nothing in this discussion appears to the Court to violate the 
applicable standard. ..  Similarly, petitioners have not persuaded the 
Court that the textbooks tend to favor religions such as Christianity 
or Judaism over Hinduism


.. so-called "Aryan invasion" or "Aryan migration" theories ..

..  First, it appears from the evidence submitted by respondent 
[SBE/CDE] that the publishers of the challenged textbooks have in fact 
been directed to recognize the ultimate uncertainty of these theories, 
at least in general terms.

More fundamentally, even if such direction had not been given, the 
texts would not be invalid for that reason.  While some scholars may 
question the Aryan invasion or migration theories, there is no showing 
that such theories are not widely or even generally accepted at this 
point, such that presenting them without significant qualification 
would be grossly inaccurate.

Moreover ..   the History-Social Science Content Standards for 
California Public Schools specifically require sixth-grade students to 
study and recognize the significance of the Aryan invasions of India.

The Court therefore does not find that the references to Aryan 
invasions or migrations make the textbooks grossly inaccurate or 
otherwise in violation of law.


..  the essential inquiry is whether the texts appear to be neutral.  
In this case, the Court finds that they are, and thus do not violate 
the applicable standards.

Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that petitioners have not 
demonstrated that the challenged textbooks violate applicable legal 

..  the Court has not found that the content of the textbooks 
challenged in this action violates applicable legal standards, the writ 
shall not include any provision requiring respondent to rescind its 
approval of those textbooks or otherwise take steps to remove them from 

LEGALESE PROCEDURAL  part:  [requirement to prepare more detailed 
regulations for *future* textbook adoptions]

The Court grants the petition for writ of mandate based upon its 
finding that respondent has not complied with a specific statutory 
mandate that it enact regulations governing its textbook approval 
process as formal regulations pursuant to the Administrative Procedures 
Act.  A writ of mandate shall issue to require respondent to comply 
with that statutory mandate within a time certain, such time to be 
established by the Court, along with any other terms required to 
preserve the status quo in the interim.

Since the ruling on the APA [Administrative Procedures Act] issue 
addresses the validity of the entire existing textbook adoption 
process, the Court declines to address the violations of the Open 
Meeting Act that petitioners allege took place during that process.

Finally, because the Court has not found that the content of the 
textbooks challenged in this action violates applicable legal 
standards, the writ shall not include any provision requiring 
respondent to rescind its approval of those textbooks or otherwise take 
steps to remove them from use.


PS. The CAPEEM case.

There remains another case, precariously suspended like Trita in the 
well. It is based on some very general items  (the 14th and 1st 
constitutional amendments: equal protection and free speech/free 

It was brought by a new, so-called parent group (CAPEEM) that was 
founded only after the decision of the State Board of Education on 
March 8. The case  had first been registered at the Federal Court in 
Seattle on March 14, but  had to be re-registered  in California as the 
group itself did not even legally exist when their lawyer  brought the 
case to court.

The lawsuit  is now in animate suspension in  the Eastern District 
Court of California.  On August 11, the judge did *not allow* the case 
to go forward against the State Board and the Dept. of Education. 
Instead, gave  CAPEEM 20 days time to reformulate their complaint  
against *individual* members of the Board and Department, that is, 
until yesterday.

Specialists think that this case is even weaker  than the HAF one, and 
quite amateurish at that (as above history clearly indicates). 
Amusingly, some Hindutvavadins since  January, have touted this then 
already prepared lawsuit as ‘professionally planned.’

We await the eventual decision of the court  in all serenity.


--------------- ity alam Hindutvadroghena!----------

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
1-617-495 3295           Fax: 496 8571
direct line:       496 2990

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