Making the Argument for Sanskrit : a Real Problem and Directions for a Solution

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Jan 4 14:24:14 UTC 2007

I welcome the useful discussion initiated by Dominik. However, I cannot 
refrain from some comment and even some nindaa. It has been suggested:

> >> I would really favour moving away from the hackneyed and
> often ineffective route of letter-writing to senior University
> bureaucrats <<

FYI :  Letter writing (to the state minister in question) has
* saved the both the Institutes at Bonn and Cologne in the early 
Nineties  (the state of Northrhine-Westfalia, wanted to combine them). 
This before internet and email.
* saved the Cologne institute just a few years ago.

It has *not* worked for Muenster, and we learned about Bochum too late. 
(NB: all 4 universities are in the same rust belt state!).

The same applies to  Cambridge: we heard about it too late.

To repeat myself, a clearing house and concerted action, e.g., by the 
Skt. Association, is required.


If I count correctly, out of the 18 participants in this conversation
only 5 have actually taken action and written to the Berlin authorities.

Looking at all the energy being spent here, why can't the other 13 
colleagues spend 2 minutes and write 4-5 lines to :       
berlinindology at
(or if you prefer, ask me for pertinent email addresses of the various 
authorities involved, and then write to them individually).

This stance is typical of many lists: talk, no action.

I remind members of the meta-discussion about the CA schoolbook matter 
on the RISA (Religion in S. Asia) list: again talk, no action, and only 
when the initial damage had been done. (One RISA member even was well 
informed before this happened but intentionally did not take any 
action...) Of course, taking action brings about  its own (personal)  
risks. NOT in the current Berlin case though.

(Sure, all other points, such as local communities, local politics, 
modern languages,  etc. granted.)

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
1-617-495 3295           Fax: 496 8571
direct line:       496 2990

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