[INDOLOGY] Public statement from Wendy Doniger

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Wed Feb 12 05:30:29 EST 2014


This is very interesting, Tim.  Thank you!

So the laws are aimed at punishing deliberately provocative offences that
are explicitly designed to promote communal or religious disharmony.  The
laws are not framed in a manner that depends on the assertion of a member
of a community that their feelings have been hurt or they have been
offended.

I would have thought that it would be trivially easy to demonstrate under
these laws that *The Hindus: An Alternative History* was not published as a
deliberate act of communal provocation.  Why did Penguin India feel
cornered?

Best,
Dominik Wujastyk


--
Dr Dominik Wujastyk
Department of South Asia, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies<http://stb.univie.ac.at>
,
University of Vienna,
Spitalgasse 2-4, Courtyard 2, Entrance 2.1
1090 Vienna, Austria
and
Adjunct Professor,
Division of Health and Humanities,
St. John's Research Institute, <http://www.sjri.res.in/> Bangalore, India.
Project <http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/caraka/> | home
page<http://www.academia.edu/DominikWujastyk>|
HSSA <http://hssa.sayahna.org> | PGP <http://wujastyk.net/pgp.html>





On 11 February 2014 22:25, Lubin, Tim <LubinT at wlu.edu> wrote:

>  Article 295A was inserted in 1927 through passage of the Criminal Law
> Amendment Act (Act 25 of 1927), and the wording revised (the part bracketed
> with note 7: "by signs" and "or otherwise" added) in 1961.
>
>  This circumstances of this legislation were described in 1934 by Sir H.
> P. Dastur, Chief Presidency Magistrate of Bombay, in his ruling on a the
> "Reason Case" (1933), a blasphemy case against a rationalist for his
> articles in a periodical called "Reason" (the case was dismissed as not
> falling under the terms of 295A because the author's intent was not
> malicious -- the same may be said of Prof. Doniger!):
>
>  "Section 295-A....was introduced by the Criminal Law Amendment Act 25 of
> 1927 in consequence of the decision..in what is known as the Rangila Rasul
> case, in which it was held that section 153-A was not meant to stop
> polemics against a deceased religious leader however scurrilous and in bad
> taste such attacks may be.
>
>  "Any criticism, and particularly a vigorous criticism, of any religious
> belief is bound to hurt or insult the religious feelings of the class of
> people professing that faith...
>
>  "As however, that would stifle all honest attempts to introduce social
> reforms, Legislature has not made a mere intent to insult the religious
> feelings of any class of His Majesty's subjects, penal under this section.
> It requires that that should be deliberate intention of the writer and ...
> "malicious".... "
> (The Rangila Rasul case had to do with scurrilous pamphlet about the
> Prophet Muhammad and his wives…  see:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangila_Rasul )
>
>  Article 153A, cited here, is as follows:
>
>  153A. 1[ Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of
> religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts
> prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.--
> (1) <http://indiankanoon.org/doc/811548/> Whoever-
> (a) <http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1102504/> by words, either spoken or
> written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes
> or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth,
> residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever,
> disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill- will between different
> religious, racials, language or regional groups or castes or communities,
> or
> (b) <http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1361857/> commits any act which is
> prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious,
> racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which
> disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquillity, 2[ or]
> (c) <http://indiankanoon.org/doc/775009/> 2[ organizes any exercise,
> movement, drill or other similar activity intending that the participants
> in such activity shall use or be trained to use criminal force or violence
> or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use
> or be trained to use criminal force or violence, or participates in such
> activity intending to use or be trained to use criminal force or violence
> or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use
> or be trained to use criminal force or violence, against any religious,
> racial, language or regional group or caste or community and such activity
> for any reason whatsoever causes or is likely to cause fear or alarm or a
> feeling of insecurity amongst members of such religious, racial, language
> or regional group or caste or community,] shall be punished with
> imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
>  (2) <http://indiankanoon.org/doc/308260/> Offence committed in place of
> worship, etc.-- Whoever commits an offence specified in sub- section (1) in
> any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of
> religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with
> imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to
> fine.]
>
>  Tim
>
>  Timothy Lubin
> Professor of Religion
> Washington and Lee University
> Lexington, Virginia 24450
>
>  http://home.wlu.edu/~lubint
> http://wlu.academia.edu/TimothyLubin
> http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=930949
>
>
>
>
>
>   From: Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>
> Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:43 PM
> To: George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com>
> Cc: Indology <INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Public statement from Wendy Doniger
>
>    Dear George,
>
>  At first I was furious with Penguin India, but having read Wendy's
> account of how they fought for her book, I have revised my opinion.  I
> learned with astonishment about the Indian law that criminalizes the
> publisher of a book that causes offence to any Hindu.  It is simply
> incredible, as a piece of law.
>
>  So, I think Wendy is probably right, and the culprit is the Indian Penal
> Code.
>
> http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1803184/ :
>  Central Government Act
> Section 295A in The Indian Penal Code, 1860
> 295A. 5[ Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious
> feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.--
> Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious
> feelings of any class of 6[ citizens of India], 7[ by words, either spoken
> or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise] insults
> or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class,
> shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which
> may extend to 8[ three years], or with fine, or with both.]
>
>  I am no historian of law.  But this looks to me as though it was framed
> by the British administration, shortly after the Rebellion.
>
>  However inappropriate the application of this law to modern scholarly
> publishing, I remain incredulous that the court decided that it could be
> established that Wendy showed "deliberate and malicious intention of
> outraging the religious feeling."
>
>  I am not sure what action would be appropriate in this case.  In the
> USA, a petition against the book was signed by 10k people.  Again, I
> suppose we could try a petition, but it would not make any difference, and
> the number of indologists is smaller by several orders than the number of
> Hindus.
>
>  I think the deeper issue here is the fact that an ignorant person (or
> persons) who does not have sufficient specialist education to understand a
> particular book is nevertheless able to bring a case that is taken
> seriously by an Indian court and leads to the banning of that book.
> Imagine an uneducated farmer taking exception to the work of a nuclear
> physicist.  Would a court say that the physicist should not do his research
> or publish his findings?
>
>  Best,
> Dominik
>
>
>  --
> Dr Dominik Wujastyk
> Department of South Asia, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies<http://stb.univie.ac.at>
> ,
> University of Vienna,
> Spitalgasse 2-4, Courtyard 2, Entrance 2.1
> 1090 Vienna, Austria
> and
> Adjunct Professor,
> Division of Health and Humanities,
> St. John's Research Institute, <http://www.sjri.res.in/> Bangalore, India.
> Project <http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/caraka/> | home page<http://www.academia.edu/DominikWujastyk>|
> HSSA <http://hssa.sayahna.org> | PGP <http://wujastyk.net/pgp.html>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 11 February 2014 20:55, George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>>  Dear Dominik et al.,
>>
>>  Given Wendy's defense of Penguin India, what other alternatives are
>> available to those of us who are Penguin India authors?
>>
>>  George
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM, George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com>wrote:
>>
>>>  Dear Dominik et al.,
>>>
>>>  Given Wendy's defense of Penguin India, what other alternatives are
>>> available to those of us who are Penguin India auth
>>>
>>>
>>>  On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>
>>>>   I am pleased to circulate the following statement at Wendy Doniger's
>>>> request:
>>>>
>>>> --------------------------------------
>>>>
>>>> Dear friends, I have had literally hundreds of requests for interviews,
>>>> in various
>>>> media, and I can’t do them all. So here is a statement that you may
>>>> use. I hope
>>>> it’s enough; it’s the best I can do right now. I intend to write a
>>>> longer article for
>>>> publication in a couple of weeks. Yours with gratitude for your courage
>>>> and
>>>> compassion, wendy
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I was thrilled and moved by the great number of messages of support
>>>> that I
>>>> received, not merely from friends and colleagues but from people in
>>>> India that I
>>>> have never met, who had read and loved The Hindus, and by news and media
>>>> people, all of whom expressed their outrage and sadness and their wish
>>>> to help
>>>> me in any way they could. I was, of course, angry and disappointed to
>>>> see this
>>>> happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech
>>>> in India in
>>>> the present, and steadily worsening, political climate. And as a
>>>> publisher’s
>>>> daughter, I particularly wince at the knowledge that the existing books
>>>> (unless
>>>> they are bought out quickly by people intrigued by all the brouhaha)
>>>> will be
>>>> pulped. But I do not blame Penguin Books, India. Other publishers have
>>>> just
>>>> quietly withdrawn other books without making the effort that Penguin
>>>> made to
>>>> save this book. Penguin, India, took this book on knowing that it would
>>>> stir
>>>> anger in the Hindutva ranks, and they defended it in the courts for
>>>> four years,
>>>> both as a civil and as a criminal suit.
>>>>
>>>> They were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece—the Indian
>>>> law
>>>> that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book
>>>> that offends
>>>> any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher,
>>>> no matter
>>>> how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book. An example at
>>>> random,
>>>> from the lawsuit in question:
>>>>
>>>>   ‘That YOU NOTICEE has hurt the religious feelings of millions of
>>>> Hindus by
>>>>   declaring that Ramayana is a fiction. “Placing the Ramayan in its
>>>> historical
>>>>   contexts demonstrates that it is a work of fiction, created by human
>>>> authors, who
>>>>   lived at various times……….” (P.662) This breaches section 295A of the
>>>> Indian
>>>>   Penal Code (IPC). ‘
>>>>
>>>> Finally, I am glad that, in the age of the Internet, it is no longer
>>>> possible to
>>>> suppress a book. The Hindus is available on Kindle; and if legal means
>>>> of
>>>> publication fail, the Internet has other ways of keeping books in
>>>> circulation.
>>>>
>>>> People in India will always be able to read books of all sorts,
>>>> including some that
>>>> may offend some Hindus.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>  _______________________________________________
>>>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>>>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>>>> http://listinfo.indology.info
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>
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