[INDOLOGY] Malhotra and plagiarism

koenraad.elst at telenet.be koenraad.elst at telenet.be
Wed Jul 15 20:43:05 UTC 2015

Dear listfolk, 
More on the ongoing Malhotra saga: 
Rajiv Malhotra's over-all stand is to question the legitimacy of much that the Indologists and India-watchers are doing, and this in a far more serious and up-to-date way than Edward Said's unjustly famous book Orientalism has done. Hence his many enemies in our circles. 
To be sure, Malhotra should have known that in the heat of such a struggle, no mistakes are allowed to be made. With so many enemies, he had no option but to be impeccable. No matter what refutation he or his acolytes now muster, this plagiarism accusation will haunt him for years to come, esp. from people who prefer not to see the contents of his works discussed. Just like the sticky "racism" allegation against Michael Witzel by an American anthropologist is now used for all it is worth by the likes of S Kalyanaraman and NS Rajaram.  
The affair invites comparison with another recent demand for a book's withdrawal, viz. Wendy Doniger's The Hindus, an Alternative History . In that case, most list members here have signed an on-line petition pioneered by Romila Thapar in defence of the author's freedom of expression (as have I, plus a second petition circulated at the Zurich Indologist conference exactly one year ago). Yet, from a strictly scholarly viewpoint, the book was not flawless either. The author was not only accused of gross bias transparent in many passages, but also of hundreds of factual errors. Of course a publisher must have a right to publish a book full of errors -- the correct response to such a book is not a ban but another book. But while the eyes of the petitioners were all on the demand of a ban, that counter-book was given the silent treatment. Yet it existed: the 600-page Critique of "The Hindus"  by Vishal Agarwal, a Minnesota-based medical engineer and Sanskrit scholar. A summmary can be consulted on-line: 
Here is also a review of Agarwal's review: 
As a song about the Satanic Verses affair made Ayatollah Khomeini say: "There's two sides to every story." 
Kind regards, 
Koenraad Elst  

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