rescuing things

Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at BLR.VSNL.NET.IN
Sat Nov 29 20:01:47 UTC 1997

On Thu, 27 Nov 1997, Bijoy Misra wrote in reply to a remark of mine:

> The concept of "rescue" is a political and unscholarly proposition
> that continues to be heard in some unfortunate quarters.  I
> honestly wish people to comment if this is a general feeling among
> the "scholars".

All right, here is a comment. I will give just one example, because
I also have other things to do:

Just yesterday, a colleague visiting Mysore from North America to
work in the office of the Epigraphical Survey of India mentioned to
me that that building is in a poor condition, resulting in water
damage to the materials which are stored there. Several items have
been preserved on inferior material media and fall apart when they
are picked up. These are, in numerous cases, records of epigraphs
(transcripts, rubbings) which are irretrievable (because buildings
have collapsed, walls which bore inscriptions have been plastered
over, etc. etc.).

I imagine that if more copies of these epigraphical materials had
been preserved (e.g., in overseas academic libraries), the
materials would have been in less danger of being lost. I am very
rationally convinced that this is a clear case of irreplaceable
materials which are in need of being rescued from impending eternal

I now challenge you in full public, Bijoy Misra, to explain to all
500+ of us on INDOLOGY how

> The concept of "rescue" is a political and unscholarly proposition

in view of already this one single example given above (but please
don't feel forced to explain, if you don't want to). I hope that
you will feel ashamed -- as you should -- of your foolish,
knee-jerk politicisation of a simple, fully objective, material
matter. That there are things to rescue, is a matter that is simply
beyond discussion and needs no further defence.

Forgive me for not being sufficiently post-modern,
anti-"orientalist", politically correct, fashionable, or whatever
it is that prompted you to react, and for my being concerned about
India and its heritage, and for my having the nerve to react to a
grotesque accusation like:

> let me surmise that to "rescue" materials in the name
> of custody is no different than piracy.

and I request you to refrain from any further

> irresponsible comments.

At the same time: I must thank you for giving all of us an
immediate illustration of the sort of thing I was complaining about
in the main portion of my previous message. Some other people
apparently think that I was exaggerating.


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