[INDOLOGY] Against the petition against Prof. Pollock

Nityanand Misra nmisra at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 00:02:03 EST 2016


Dear list members,

In the last two days, the petition against Prof. Pollock has received
considerable attention in India and has been covered in several mainstream
media publications. While this thread has focussed mainly on the
misinterpretaion/misunderstanding of quote from a specific talk by Prof.
Pollock, the news reports have primarily focussed on the political aspects
(Prof. Pollock’s views on JNU), confirming my views expressed earlier on
this thread that the petition may well be a response to Prof. Pollock
signing the political-cum-solidarity statement on the hotly debated JNU
issue.

The website of the left-leaning The Hindu carried a small report titled
“Murthy foundation under fire.” The headline is not very accurate as it is
Prof. Pollock under fire in the petition and not the Murthy foundation.

The Huffington Post India, India arm of the liberal Huffington Post,
carries a report today by Indrani Basu titled “Pro-JNU Statement Spawns
Petition For Ouster Of Sheldon Pollock As Editor Of Murty Classical
Library.” The article largely cites the political aspects of the petition.

Another article in the Economic Times (owned by the centrist Times Group)
is titled “JNU fallout: Petition wants Murty Classical Library to remove
editor” states “In what seems to be a retaliation for his condemning the
government’s action against protesting students ...” It also adds “Those
aware of Pollock's work held that the signatories ‘misrepresent Pollock to
achieve their end.’”

The centrist Indian Express published a report by Anushree Majumdar
yesterday titled “Murty library editor: Petition wants US scholar removed,
cites JNU remarks.” The sub-title reads

“The petition also said that Pollock had been ‘a prominent signatory of
several statements which are of a purely political nature’.”

[1] Staff Reporter (March 1 2016). Murthy foundation under fire. The Hindu.
URL:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/murthy-foundation-under-fire/article8297746.ece

[2] Indrani Basu (March 1 2016). Pro-JNU Statement Spawns Petition For
Ouster Of Sheldon Pollock As Editor Of Murty Classical Library. Huffington
Post India. URL:
http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/03/01/sheldon-pollock-murty-lib_n_9345928.html

[3] ET Bureau (February 29 2016). JNU fallout: Petition wants Murty
Classical Library to remove editor. Economic Times. URL:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/51186110.cms

[4] Anushree Majumdar (February 29 2016). Murty library editor: Petition
wants US scholar removed, cites JNU remarks. Indian Express. URL:
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/murty-library-editor-petition-wants-us-scholar-removed-cites-jnu-remarks/

Thanks, Nityanand
On Feb 29, 2016 4:13 PM, "Artur Karp" <karp at uw.edu.pl> wrote:

> > Professor S.D. Joshi was in the audience and wanted to make a comment
> > that disagreed with Patañjali's views.  The Pandits told him that he
> could
> > not participate in the discussion, unless he first accepted the supreme
> > authority of Patañjali.
>
> I have met (where?) some time ago  with a peculiar definition of Sanskrit.
> According to it Sanskrit is Amrita. Not "*is like* Amrita", it *is*
> Amrita.
>
> Would anyone in their sound mind want to change the composition of the
> drink of immortality?
>
> Regards,
>
> Artur Karp
>
> Warsaw, Poland
>
> 2016-02-28 15:01 GMT+01:00 Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at umich.edu>:
>
>> Dear Colleagues,
>>
>> I could not agree more with Dr. Nityananda Misra's concluding statement: "As
>> I see it, both petitions are rooted more in strong differences of
>> opinion/ideology than in misunderstanding or wilful misconstrual/misrepresentation."
>>  This ideological divide is now at the boiling point, but the first time I
>> came face to face with it was in 1965 in Pune.  There was a Pandit Sabha in
>> which some leading Pandits were discussing some grammatical point, citing
>> the authority of Patañjali.  My teacher, Professor S.D. Joshi was in the
>> audience and wanted to make a comment that disagreed with Patañjali's
>> views.  The Pandits told him that he could not participate in the
>> discussion, unless he first accepted the supreme authority of Patañjali.
>> Professor Joshi sat down, without being allowed to speak at this event.  I
>> don't know where the current "Battle for Sanskrit" will end up, but it
>> clearly has very deep roots.
>>
>> Madhav Deshpande
>>
>> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 6:41 AM, Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On 27 February 2016 at 21:22, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>> I discovered yesterday that there exists a petition
>>>> <https://www.change.org/p/mr-n-r-narayana-murthy-and-mr-rohan-narayan-murty-removal-of-prof-sheldon-pollock-as-mentor-and-chief-editor-of-murty-classical-library>
>>>> launched by Prof. K. Ramasubramanian that asks for Prof. Sheldon Pollock to
>>>> be removed from his editorial leadership role with the Murty Library.
>>>>
>>>>
>>> Dear list members
>>>
>>> It is the season of petitions and statements! Adding some more details
>>> before my comments:
>>>
>>> 1) While the petition of change.org has been started by Prof. K
>>> Ramasubramanian, as many as 131 Indian intellectuals apart from Prof. K
>>> Ramasubramanian signed the original plea to Mr. Narayana Murthy and Mr.
>>> Rohan Murthy. I do not know if it was covered in a mainstream media source,
>>> the much less-known newsgram.com carried it:
>>> http://www.newsgram.com/132-indian-academicians-call-for-removal-of-sheldon-pollock-as-general-editor-of-murthy-classical-library/
>>> I personally know and have met with many scholars on the list: and some
>>> of them are very well respected in India, in addition to being well-known.
>>> Prof.  Ramasubramanian himself is a recipient of the Badarayan Vyas Samman.
>>>
>>> 2) Apart from the aspects highlighted in Dr. Wujastyk's email, two other
>>> aspects which are very relevant to this petition: the letter by the
>>> academicians mentions Mr. Rajiv Malhotra's *Battle of Sanskrit* as well
>>> as Prof. Pollock's recent signing of the solidarity statement with the
>>> “students, faculty, and staff of JNU”: the petition against Prof. Pollock
>>> may well be a reaction to this. On the first aspect: Recently, Mr. Rajiv
>>> Malhotra's book has been widely discussed in Indian universities of late.
>>> Mr. Malhotra has been hosted by several Indian universities and institutes
>>> (e.g. Karnataka Sanskrit University and TISS) for talks where he has
>>> received both support and opposition, but more support than opposition as
>>> far as I can say. On the second aspect, there was a discussion on the *Bhāratīyavidvatpariṣat
>>> *mailing list (Mr. Rajiv Malhotra recently joined this mailing list).
>>> The thread was started by me, and I remarked in my short initial post
>>> “Before the Indian courts decide, 455 academicians have already reached a
>>> decision.” The discussion can be read here:
>>> https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/bvparishat/cTgsJDKjA8I
>>>
>>> My quick comments:
>>> If it can be argued that the petition against Prof. Pollock is based on
>>> ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘wilful misconstrual’ (as members on this list have
>>> described), then it can also be argued that the solidarity statement (to
>>> which Prof. Pollock is a signatory) on the JNU issue is based on a ‘lack of
>>> understanding’ of jurisprudence in India or ‘wilful misrepresentation’ of
>>> facts. On jurisprudence: The Delhi Police has the documentary (video tapes)
>>> and non-documentary (eye-witnesses) evidence, and the Indian courts will
>>> examine the evidence and rule on the matter: then in what capacity does the
>>> solidarity statement declare thrice that the police action on JNU was
>>> ‘illegal’. On misrepresentation, the solidarity statement misses that fact
>>> that a large section of JNU students and teachers did support the police
>>> action on JNU. This was also covered in the news:
>>> http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/180-JNU-Teachers-Take-the-Sarkari-Side-Demand-Action-Against-Students/2016/02/16/article3280826.ece
>>>
>>> As I see it, both petitions are rooted more in strong differences of
>>> opinion/ideology than in misunderstanding or wilful
>>> misconstrual/misrepresentation.
>>>
>>> Thanks, Nityanand
>>>
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>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Madhav M. Deshpande
>> Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
>> Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
>> 202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
>> The University of Michigan
>> Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA
>>
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>
>
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