A British GCSE religious studies workbook has been scrapped from a schools website and withdrawn by the publisher after it sparked outrage among the British Indians who said it linked Hinduism to terrorism.
The book bearing the AQA logo (the examination board which sets and awards GSCES and A levels), had been downloadable from the curriculum section of the website of Langley School, a comprehensive secondary school in Solihull, West Midlands — until Monday.
A description of Hinduism on page four of the book states: “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.”
Trupti Patel, president of the Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), an umbrella body for British Hindus, said: “This is a political move to discredit Hindus and India. I am sure whoever wrote this did it deliberately.”
Patel and HFB vice-president Ramesh Pattni, chair of HFB’s religious education committee, sent a letter to AQA and qualifications regulator ‘Ofqual’ describing the text as “vexatious, inaccurate and meant to teach wrong beliefs about Hindus to impressionable children”.
The letter states: “You have completely misinterpreted the meaning of dharma and linked it to what you describe as terrorism… even the interpretation about Arjuna is totally misinterpreted… We suspect that there may be a political agenda behind how Hindu beliefs and practices have been portrayed.”
“We have had a holding reply saying AQA will investigate,” Patel told one of the Indian media.
An AQA spokesperson said: “We didn’t produce the workbook that’s been shared on social media and our logo was used on it without our permission. Some of the material in it seems to have come from a textbook — we’ve spoken to the publisher, which has withdrawn the book from sale while it addresses the issue.”
Langley School confirmed it had removed the book from its website “as soon as it was alerted” via emails on Monday. The school said it did not know why the workbook carried the AQA logo and the book “was not used for teaching”.
“A member of our staff purchased the resource from the Times Educational Supplement website some years ago. We are unaware of the author of the document. We are devastated that this oversight in our administration has caused this offence,” the school said in a statement.
“We can assure you it is not used in school.”