Hindus ask SD schools include comparative religion to develop globally competent students

Rajan Zed
Rajan Zed(rajanzed2@aol.com)
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 11:26 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Hindus are emphasizing that proposed Social Studies Standards for South Dakota classrooms should include comparative religion; if the state government is genuinely interested in developing well-rounded and enlightened global citizens of tomorrow.

The President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, urged Gov. Noem, Social Studies Standards Revision Commission Chair Mark Miller, and South Dakota Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson to integrate comparative religion into the proposed Standards for South Dakota, according to a press release.

Zed said that despite our seriously different faith traditions, we should learn to understand and respect others and their beliefs in this increasingly diverse nation. Zed noted that religion is powerful and complex and impacts various aspects of our society, a basic understanding of “other” religions was urgently needed. Besides similarities, students also needed to be more educated about our differences to develop goodwill in the communities.

Zed said if these decision-makers who impact Social Study standards were serious about developing harmonious communities and enlightened future citizens, students should be educated on the basics of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto, Baha’ism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Native American Spirituality, non-belief, and other belief systems which did not fit into these classifications.

Zed indicated that learning about the different religions reportedly reduced intolerance, isolationism, misunderstandings, stereotyping, suspicion, etc.; and enhanced amity, chances of assimilation and integration of diverse communities, cross-cultural religious communication, dialogue skills, economic success, empathy, goodwill, harmony and social tolerance in the society, interaction among diverse groups, peace, religious and cultural literacy, social stability. It would show that we had more in common than in conflict, provide us a better understanding of shared values and sources of differences, help us accept co-existence, and make more informed decisions.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion in the world, with about 1.2 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in the USA. Rajan Zed has read the invocation for Rapid City Council.

Moreover, introducing comparative religion would help develop global competence skills, which would be an asset for South Dakota students in future globalized workplaces, Zed added.