Indian diaspora in the UK has raised concerns against a GCSE religious studies workbook which called Hindus ‘terrorists’ trying to protect their beliefs. The publisher withdrew the book titled ‘GCSE Religious Studies: Religion, Peace and Conflict’, bearing AQA logo, from the curriculum section of Langley School, in Solihull, West Midlands. The book, which was downloadable from the school’s website, was removed after widespread outrage from the community, especially on twitter, when British Indians Voice first tweeted about it.
On Page 4 of the now withdrawn book it stated, "Holy books teach that it is necessary to be able to morally justify war in order to preserve dharma. Arjuna, as a Kshatriya, is reminded of his duty to uphold a righteous cause and that in fact there is nothing better than a righteous war.”
"If the cause is just, Hindus will take up arms. Self-defence 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."
Dr Ramesh Pattni OBE, Chair of religious Education and Trupti Patel, President of Hindu Forum of Britain have written to the AQA Board, saying, “The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) is extremely disappointed and exasperated about the content of this workbook regarding Hinduism. The statement regarding Hinduism in the section on ‘Religious beliefs, teachings and attitudes about the meaning and significance of justice’ on page 4 is completely misrepresented, vexatious, inaccurate and meant to teach wrong beliefs about Hindus to impressionable children.
The statement that Hindus have turned to terrorism is completely and falsely put in the context of this section and there is no rationale that links this to any aspect of Hindu philosophy. It shows a superficial understanding of the matter and even the interpretation about the Arjuna is totally misinterpreted in the context of dharma and war. This is a specific instance of the dharma of a kshatriya as the warrior and the argument definitely does not extend to lawlessness in the community using dharma as the basis.
“You have completely misrepresented the meaning of dharma and linked it to what you describe as terrorism. In fact, dharma works exactly in the opposite direction of the greater good for the society when understood and interpreted properly.
“We suspect that there may a political agenda behind how Hindu beliefs and practices have been portrayed in your workbook, especially in relation to another religion. It’s clear that not having a Hindu scholar on board, you have relied on hearsay and not facts. We believe that whoever wrote on Hinduism is ignorant and would suggest you refer any matters on Hinduism to us.
“We demand that you immediately remove the reference to terrorism in this section and if there is no action taken, we will have no choice but to take necessary measures to have it removed. We require a prompt response from you in this matter.”
AQA in a statement said, “We can confirm that we didn’t produce this workbook and our logo was used on it without permission. Some of the material seems to have come from a textbook- we have spoken to the publisher, which has withdrawn the book from sale, while it addresses the issue.
In a statement Langley school said, “Unfortunately this document was purchased externally several years ago and not produced by our staff at our school. We can assure you that it is not used in school...We apologise for any offence caused.”