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Monday, September 20, 2021

British school and publisher withdraw books linking Hindu Dharma with terrorism

A British school has withdrawn the religious studies workbook of the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) course from the school’s website after the Bharatiya diaspora raised objections regarding the content which linked Hindu Dharma to terrorism. Even the publisher has withdrawn the textbook carrying the same content following the outrage.

The curriculum section of the website of Langley School, located in West Midlands’ Solihull, had made the workbook available for download till Monday. The workbook titled “GCSE Religious Studies: Religion Peace and Conflict” has information regarding world religions and a section of questions to be answered following the content.

The ToI (Times of India) report says:

The description on page 4 reads “holy books teach that it is necessary to be able to morally justify war in order to preserve Dharma. If the cause is just, Hindus will take up arms. Self-defiance is justifiable; hence India has nuclear weapons to protect from aggressors. Some Hindus have turned to terrorism to protect Hindu beliefs. The Arthashastra scriptures state that governments must act with a suitable moral approach, which implies a just one”.

Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) President Trupti Patel had condemned the text stating a political attempt was being made through this act to discredit Bharat and Hindus. Patel and vice-president of HFB Ramesh Pattni took up the matter with the concerned authorities, namely AQA and qualifications regulator Ofqual through written communication.

The letter states that the text is “vexatious, inaccurate” and that impressionable children are being taught wrong beliefs about Hindus. The letter further says that the meaning of Dharma has been not just been misinterpreted but also wrongly linked to terrorism. Even Arjun has been misinterpreted and HFB believes there is a political agenda behind portraying Hindu beliefs and practices in such a manner.

Patel has confirmed that AQA has said that it will investigate the matter, AQA, on its part, has issued a statement that the workbook had not been created by them and their logo had been used without permission. They also said that some of its content had come from a textbook that has now been withdrawn by the publisher and the issue is being addressed.

The Langley School on its part confirmed taking down the material from its website after receiving email alerts regarding the content and added that it was unaware as to why the workbook carried the AQA logo. It also said that they did not use the book for teaching.

The school also said that the resource had been bought by one of its staff members from the Times Educational Supplement website a few years ago. Its statement also states that they are unaware of the author and regretted the oversight.

According to ToI, the workbook has been published by Hodder Education in London under the title “AQA GCSE (9-1) Religious Studies Specification A”. Hodder Education spokeswoman confirmed that the book has since been withdrawn from sale.

The malicious content came to light when one of the parents noticed their child studying it and duly informed their temple. Several members of British Indians Voice (BIV) also emailed their objections to the school and the AQA. BIV member Ashish Popat opined that the content about righteous war as contained in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita has been misinterpreted and added that Hindus have never taken up arms, be it for self-defense or for protecting Hindu beliefs.

(Featured Image Source: The Conversation)

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