Public Officials Supporting Hindu American Community Education Work in California, 2017

HAF is grateful for all the words of support it has received from elected officials, from across the United States, in our efforts to ensure that Hinduism is presented accurately in California textbooks. The following quotes were provided to HAF in November 2017.

Niraj Antani (R), Ohio House of Representatives

"As the only Hindu American in the Ohio General Assembly, I know how vital it is to ensure that there is accuracy and authenticity in how Hindus are portrayed in our schools. Evidence shows that stereotypes and incorrect information about cultures and religions can lead to bullying and misunderstanding. I am proud of my work with the Hindu American Foundation and hope that California's State Board of Education addresses the important concerns of the Hindu, Jain and broader Indian American communities, and uses this opportunity to ensure that all instructional materials better reflect the high standards expected of our public schools."

Kumar Barve (D), Maryland State Delegate

"As the longest serving South Asian, Indian American, and Hindu American in public office in America, I congratulate the California Board of Education for adopting textbooks that greatly improve the accuracy and understanding of Hinduism, Hindu Americans, Indian Americans, Jain Americans, LGBT Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and other American communities. I have worked with the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) in its efforts to ensure that the same standards are used for all religions, civilizations and cultures & in their extensive civil rights work. They have worked with groups like the Anti-Defamation League & leading civil rights group to make America better. The Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) mobilized hundreds of people today to give pointed testimonies. Today is not just a victory for us, but for all Americans."

Jay Chaudhuri (D), North Carolina State Senate

"As the first Hindu American and Indian American to serve in the North Carolina Senate, I'm well aware of how stereotypes about cultures and religions can result in bullying and misunderstanding. That's why I applaud the work by the Hindu American Foundation — an organization that's working closely with 75 community and interfaith groups, including LGBTQ and African-American organizations — to make sure California textbooks properly reflect the religious and cultural pluralism of our diverse community and that better reflect the high standards expected of our schools."

Swati Dandekar, Ambassador

"I congratulate the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) for working to ensure that all cultures, religions, and civilizations, including India, Hinduism and Jainism are portrayed accurately and with equity in school textbooks. America is better because of this work that brought together many religious, ethnic, cultural and advocacy groups. As always, you can count on my help and support to make sure that all Americans including Indian Americans and Hindu Americans are treated fairly."

Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), US Member of Congress

“At a time of great division in our country and around the world, the importance of ensuring that the next generation is brought up respecting religious and cultural diversity, equality, and pluralism is critical. These textbooks and instructional materials will determine what students learn in their classroom for the next decade, and play a central role in educating students and preparing them to be successful, engaged individuals in our society. It’s essential that all elements of students’ learning reflect values of diversity and inclusion, allowing students to remain secure in their identity and beliefs while obtaining the best education possible.”

Abe Gupta, Dublin (California) City Councilmember

"I am pleased to have supported the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) in their efforts to ensure that Hindu Americans, Jain Americans, and Indian Americans are portrayed accurately, fairly and using the same standards for all civilizations and cultures. I hope that the CA Board of Education approves only good quality books that promote harmony, tolerance and understanding. As one of a handful of Hindu American and Indian American elected officials in California, I understand the importance of good textbooks so that we can ensure that bullying is eliminated."

Pradeep Gupta, Mayor of South San Francisco

"Great work by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) to fight for textbooks that accurately and fairly portray all cultures, religions, and civilizations, especially India, Hinduism and Jainism. As an American immigrant and leader in a diversity city, I know the importance of understanding the diverse community that we have. This is a victory not just for Indian Americans and Hindu Americans, but all Americans."

Tom Handley, Board Member of the Union (California) Sanitary District

"It is important for our educational materials to provide a balance perspective of the different cultures and religions. This has become more important as our demographics have shifted. Today we have more children of East Indian descent in our schools. Having correct information on their culture is critical for both their self esteem and for educating their classmates. Many of these problems between cultures is due to incorrect information. This will help their classmates to understand who they are and where they come from."

Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), California State Assemblymember

“In a climate of increasing hate crimes, religious misunderstandings and bullying, California public school textbooks play a critical role in educating students and providing them with the exposure to diverse cultures, religions and ethnic groups. I urge the State Board of Education to address the important concerns of the Hindu, Jain and broader Indian American communities, and use this opportunity to ensure that all instructional materials better reflect the high standards expected of our public schools.”

Anjali Kausar, President of the Board of the Cupertino Union School District

"The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) and allied groups have succeeded in ensuring that India, Hinduism, Jainism, Indian Americans, Hindu Americans and Jain Americans, & other communities marginalized in California's education system including other Asians, Latinos, African Americans, are portrayed correctly & fairly. I am delighted that California State Board of Education voted as recommended by my colleagues in local, state & federal government. I am hopeful that these improved textbooks will further promote pluralism, harmony and understanding, increase student respect for each other & decrease bullying."

Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), US Member of Congress

"It was my pleasure to write to the California State Board of Education to encourage them to portray India, Hinduism and Jainism fairly and accurately by using the same standards applied to other civilizations and religions. I am pleased to work with groups like the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) which have led the community effort. The broad coalition they have built for equity in education includes LGBTQ groups, African-American organizations, the Asian Pacific Islander caucus, the Anti-Defamation League, over 40 Professors in social sciences, and state and national legislators including my friend California Assemblymember Ash Kalra and fellow member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard. As one of 4 Hindu-American and one of 5 Indian-American members of Congress, I know the effect of misrepresentation about cultures and religions and understand how that leads to bullying. Today, I hope the California Board of Education does the right thing and approves only the books that this coalition recommends. It has never been more important in American history to make sure our children learn to respect one another and the contributions of their ancestors. That is how we will build a more tolerant and pluralistic America."

Rishi Kumar, Saratoga (California) City Councilmember

"I am absolutely in favor of California textbooks that portray India and Hinduism fairly and accurately - not just establishing an identity, an accurate image - but also creating pride in an ancient flourishing civilization, it’s traditions and rich culture stemming from a deep knowledge of the universe that continues to amaze historians. I truly believe that every religion, civilization and culture deserves an accurately portrayal, lead to cultural pride and accentuate the joy of the California cultural melting pot. The importance of diversity, tolerance, are ingrained in me as an American and Indian American and I am sure the California Board of Education will do the right thing."

Anjali Lathi, Vice President, Union (California) Sanitary District Board of Directors

"I am delighted that the California State Board of Education fought back against those who disingenuously and inaccurately wanted to portray India as filthy, Hindu Americans as racist, and Hinduism as an apartheid religion. Today's results show what our community can accomplish when we stand united and work together. I am hopeful the new textbooks will help to reduce the bullying experienced by many Hindu children. I appreciate the leadership and tireless efforts of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) as well as the 100's of volunteers who participated in the process over the years."

Aruna Miller, Candidate for US Congress, Maryland

"I wholeheartedly applaud the actions taken by the California Department of Education to adopt textbooks that more authentically and accurately portray Hinduism in K-12 public schools. Measures like these re-affirm America’s commitment to acceptance, tolerance, and pluralism. As a Hindu American and a proud mother of three daughters educated by Maryland public schools, I know firsthand the importance of enabling young Hindu Americans to learn about their faith alongside their peers with pride and dignity.

At a time when our nation is rife with great social division, we should continue to build common understanding and mutual respect among America's diverse communities. No faith or civilization should be taught without the utmost fidelity and adherence to cultural competency.

Thanks to the tremendous advocacy and dedicated hard work of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Hindu Education Foundation (HEF), California public schools will provide their students with a stronger understanding of the rich history of our Indian American, Hindu American, and Jain American communities.”

Raj Salwan, Fremont (California) City Councilmember

"I have fought for racial, cultural and religious understanding while representing the diverse people of Fremont, California. Therefore, it is very important to me that California's textbooks improve tolerance, understanding & harmony. As a Hindu American and India American, I know that stereotypes & colonialist views have led to bullying. Our state Board of Education needs to tackle this quickly for the rights of Hindu, Jain and Indian Americans. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) have been leaders in working to ensure that all civilizations, cultures, religions and communities are portrayed accurately & fairly, and using the same standards for all religions, civilizations and cultures."

Hiral Tipirneni, Candidate for US Congress (Arizona)

"I hope that the CA Board of Education does the right thing and approves only textbooks that portray India and Hinduism fairly and accurately. I am pleased to have worked with the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) in its efforts to ensure that Latino Americans, Hindu Americans, Jain Americans, and Indian Americans are portrayed accurately & fairly, and using the same standards for all religions, civilizations and cultures. Growing up in America, I know many people who were bullied because of their skin color, religion and culture, and I support the work of their broad coalition including the Anti-Defamation League to promote great understanding and tolerance."

Savita Vaidhyanathan, Mayor of Cupertino, California

"Immigrants come to America seeking a better tomorrow. In the process, they contribute significantly to making America the great country it is. Although they are all American now, each immigrant carries a part of their history and culture with them. It is important that every community, religion, and culture be portrayed accurately and fairly in our schools and our celebrations.

I am proud to be the Mayor of the City of Cupertino, a city which is strong because of its diversity. Early in the year, I signed a resolution on equitable communities to uphold the rights of every individual and protect them against discrimination and hatred. Every human should be encouraged to be proud of their culture and the community they identify with.

The work of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) has markedly improved the understanding of the Indian American, Hindu American, & Jain American communities. The portrayal of the communities of the Asians, Latinos, LGBTQ & African American people has show marked improvements in accuracy. I am sure the new textbooks will promote understanding and respect among all people."