Re: OUP denies ‘censorship'

Jean-Luc Chevillard jean-luc.chevillard at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR
Thu Dec 1 10:41:08 UTC 2011

Dear Dominik,

as all the 453 signatories to the letter know,
"Le combat continue"!

See also the report:



-- Jean-Luc


The Hindu

LONDON, December 1, 2011

Retract apology over Ramanujan essay, academics tell OUP

Hasan Suroor

Academics protesting against the Oxford University Press' (OUP) decision 
to stop publication and sale of A.K. Ramanujan's essay Three Hundred 
Ramayanas are insisting that it must “retract” the apology it reportedly 
issued in court to a right-wing cultural group which had demanded a ban 
on the essay claiming that it hurt Hindu sensitivities.

Sheldon Pollock, the noted American Indologist leading the protest, said 
on Wednesday that the OUP had “besmirched Ramanujan's reputation by 
apologising in court to those who sought to ban his work.”

He also demanded “assured availability” of Ramanujan's Collected Essays 
failing which the OUP must release all rights to the book, along with 
the release of the Indian rights to Paula Richman's Many Ramayanas in 
which the controversial essay appears.

“We expect a public retraction of the apology OUP India made in court. 
We ask that OUP India demonstrate its commitment to freedom of 
expression by assuring and publicly announcing the unrestricted 
availability of The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan. And, if it is 
unwilling to offer that assurance, we demand that it relinquish all 
rights to Ramanujan's book, along with the Indian rights to Richman's 
Many Ramayanas and return them to the original copyright holders so that 
a consortium of other Indian presses may reprint the books, as they are 
prepared to do,” said Professor Pollock, Ransford Professor of Sanskrit 
and Indian Studies, Columbia University, in a letter to Nigel Portwood, 
chief executive of OUP, UK.

The letter was also signed by Vinay Dharwadker, Professor, Department of 
Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and 
General Editor of The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan. It was in 
response to Mr. Portwood's claim, in his reply to a previous letter from 
Professor Pollock and his colleagues, that the decision to discontinue 
the sale of the essay was based purely on “commercial considerations” 
and not taken under pressure from right-wing protesters.

Professors Pollock and Dharwadker said that Mr. Portwood had “avoided” 
the principal issues raised in their previous missive.

“According to the reports we have received, OUP India's lawyers made it 
clear in court that they would not reprint the essay. Furthermore, OUP 
India gave an undertaking to the Delhi University Vice-Chancellor, who 
asked for one in view of the court case, that they would never reprint 
the essay,” they said, demanding that OUP India must immediately issue a 
full and accurate summary of the court case, its agreement with the 
plaintiff, and its undertaking with the previous or current 
administration of Delhi University which dropped the essay from its 
syllabus following protests from some groups.

Meanwhile, OUP Delhi, in a statement, insisted that it “does not 
apologise and never has apologised for publishing the essay.”

“That is wholly consistent with a statement in 2008 legal proceedings 
that OUP India ‘greatly respects the plurality of Indian culture in all 
publishing activities and never has any intention to hurt, insult, or 
offend in any way, any religious community or popular sentiments.' OUP 
India has for many decades successfully fulfilled its role as a 
disseminator of the best scholarship, and continues to uphold the 
highest levels of integrity,” it said.


On 30/11/2011 11:49, Dominik Wujastyk wrote:

> A quick check of the OUP India website today does show that Ramanujan's
> /Collected Essays/ volume is currently listed as "available for
> immediate purchase".  See attached image.

> Dominik

> --
> Dr Dominik Wujastyk
> On 30 November 2011 09:21, Jean-Luc Chevillard
> <jean-luc.chevillard at
> <mailto:jean-luc.chevillard at>> wrote:
>     FYI
>     (copied from the MinTamil list)
>     "
>     <>"
>     ******************************__************
>     Flash from the UK via Chennai.
>     Retrieved on 30 11 2011 from
>     <>
>     30 11 2011
>     Ramanujan essay row: OUP denies ‘censorship'
>     ‘Commercial considerations' cited for not publishing Three Hundred
>     Ramayanas
>     The Oxford University Press (OUP) on Tuesday said that its decision
>     to discontinue publishing and selling A.K. Ramanujan's essay, ‘Three
>     Hundred Ramayanas,' was based on “commercial considerations.” It
>     denied acting under pressure from right-wing protesters who had
>     claimed that the essay hurt Hindu sensitivities.
>     Nigel Portwood, chief executive of OUP UK, also denied that it had
>     stopped printing altogether Ramanujan's Collected Essays , in which
>     ‘300 Ramayanas' appears, but said the book was available only in its
>     “short-run print programme because there was not a sufficient number
>     of back orders to justify a normal reprint.”
>     Reply to letter
>     Replying to a letter from American Indologist Sheldon Pollock and
>     several other leading academics, including Paula Richman in whose
>     volume the essay appears, Mr. Portwood rejected allegations of
>     censorship. He insisted that OUP took its “role as a disseminator of
>     the best scholarship in India” seriously.
>     “The two Ramanujan books at the centre of the current debate — Many
>     Ramayanas and The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan — have not been
>     removed from the market in India through acts of censorship. Prior
>     to 2008, both works had been showing minimal sales triggering the
>     decision not to reprint either title. As I am sure you appreciate,
>     commercial considerations are one of several factors in publishing
>     decisions.”
>     About the “confusion” over the availability of The Collected Essays
>     , Mr. Portwood said the book was out of stock from 2008 but OUP
>     continued to collect a small number of back orders on its internal
>     systems.
>     “In early September 2011, we put The Collected Essays into our
>     short-run print programme because there was not a sufficient number
>     of back orders to justify a normal reprint, and it has been listed
>     as available on the OUP India website ever since — some weeks before
>     the current controversy began,” he said.
>     In their letter, Prof. Pollock and co-signatories had conveyed their
>     “shock and dismay” at OUP India's action which, they said, was
>     compounded by its abject apology in court to a group which had
>     claimed that the essay hurt Hindu sensitivities. They urged the OUP
>     to withdraw its court apology, publicly state that it was committed
>     to the right of scholars to publish their work without fear of
>     suppression or censorship, and demonstrate this commitment by
>     reprinting Ramanujan's The Collected Essays .
>     OUP denies acting under pressure from right-wing protesters
>     “ Collected Essays available only in its short-run print programme”
>     Retrieved on 30 11 2011
>     from
>     <>

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