[INDOLOGY] regarding Malhotra's plaguerism

Greg Bailey Greg.Bailey at latrobe.edu.au
Sun Jul 19 07:20:36 UTC 2015

Dear All,

Al Collins is right to see Rajeev Malhotra as a post-colonial agent and perhaps also as a public intellectual.  Post-colonialism is essentially a diaspora phenomenon, prosecuted mainly by Bengali intellectuals living outside of India. Whilst Malhotra may not be of Bengali extract he certainly fits the bill of living outside of India, a factor that supports the kind of romanticist view of Sanskrit as a civilizational paradigm so often found in his argument and dharma as a civilizational ethic. Bear in mind that there is possibly a sense of guilt in some diaspora Indians who have done well financially in a country that many of them see as dominated by an ethos of avaricious materialism. From this perspective the Indian renunciatory tradition (s) are very attractive to them and will provide a foundation for the kind of hybrid view of Hinduism given by Malhotra, and by the ideologists of the BJP in particular.
In a practical sense how will it affect us outside of India who continue to engage in our philological work, also having an ideological base, but one whose underlying assumptions are usually clearly defined? Only if elements in the BJP government prevent us from going to India or from accessing manuscript materials in Indi or undertaking archaeological work, will it affect us directly.
I attended Malhotra’s speech at the recent conference in Bangkok. He spoke in the opening plenary session and, as far as I am aware, did not attend any of the more technical panels. His speech was pure ideology–Sanskrit as a sacred language, the language of liberation, and so on–accompanied by a savage attack on those who seek to find (Foucauldian) power structures reflected in Sanskrit knowledge. It had nothing to do with Sanskrit scholarship and I remain in doubt as to why he was provided with a podium to speak.
Having said that many diaspora Indians and ‘intellectual’ supporters of the Sangh Parvivar will hang on to his every word.  At some stage one or more Sanskritists are going to have to demonstrate conclusively that post-colonial theory is an ‘emperor with no clothes,’ even though the post-colonial experience is certainly one worthy of study.
Greg Bailey

From: Al Collins <nasadasin at gmail.com<mailto:nasadasin at gmail.com>>
Date: Sunday, 19 July 2015 8:03 AM
To: Ashok Aklujkar <ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com<mailto:ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com>>
Cc: "INDOLOGY at list.indology.info<mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>" <INDOLOGY at list.indology.info<mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] regarding Malhotra's plaguerism

"Plaguerism", indeed!

I think we need to look a little deeper into this matter, and take telling slips of the keyboard like the above seriously.  Malhotra is clearly experienced by most scholars on this list and RISA as a form of "plague," someone so far beyond the pale (sic!) that he needs to be definitively suppressed, squelched, cast into outer darkness, to use just a few of many available clichés for what seems to most responders here to be obvious.  Of course all are at least tacitly aware that academic ire will do nothing to shut down the jingoism that is perceived to support Malhotra's project. On the contrary, it will simply increase the bias against "Western" Indology.

I suggest that the focus be kept on Malhotra as a post-colonial agent, not on the man as purported plagiarist.  What he is trying to do belongs with the work of Indian freedom fighters like Aurobindo, Vivekananda, and Gandhi, and is not an attempt to compete with Halbfass, Renou, or Pollock.  He is a public intellectual, and I think standards  for citation are different for such individuals. Think of fueilletonists in Weimar Germany like Walter Benjamin, Karl Kraus, Josef Strauss. Or thinkers like Freud, Jung, Koestler.  Malhotra is a kind of journalist, one with an ax to grind (like most journalists) but certainly he has never claimed to be a scholar and should not be attacked for being a bad one.

The question we should ask is why this obvious fact is not clear. Malhotra should be considered an object of study, and above all a cultural interlocutor, not a failed academic competitor.  He needs to be taken seriously as a Hindu or contemporary Indian phenomenon, not as a scholar, for which he would never be mistaken.

Al Collins, Ph.D., Ph.D.

Al Collins, Ph.D., Ph.D., BCN
Clinical and cultural psychologist
615 E. 82nd Ave. #102
Anchorage, AK 99518

On Sat, Jul 18, 2015 at 9:50 AM, Ashok Aklujkar <ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com<mailto:ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com>> wrote:

On Jul 17, 2015, at 3:17 PM, George Thompson <gthomgt at GMAIL.COM<mailto:gthomgt at GMAIL.COM>> wrote:

>With regard to his own lack of quotation marks, Malhotra argues somewhere [on RISA?] that the early Sanskritists also did not have quotation marks either.  But in fact they did have quotations marks.  They used the quotative particle iti going all the way back to the
Rigveda. Malhotra’s remarks are either profoundly ignorant or profoundly disingenuous.<

Malhotra’s actual words are “Sanskrit does not even have quotation marks in its character set.” (cf. “Rajiv Malhotra says those accusing him of plagiarism are really out to silence his voice,” Newslaundry of 2015-07-15. http://www.newslaundry.com/2015/07/15/rajiv-malhotra-says-those-accusing-him-of-plagiarism-are-really-out-to-silence-his-voice/

The words “in its character set” make it clear that Malhotra had written or printed Sanskrit in mind. Obviously, he should not be quoted by dropping that part of his statement which serves to avoid a possible misunderstanding of his point.

This must be the first time in human history that one or two missed quotation marks led to a petition for not publishing an author’s books. Could there be something offensively exciting in some absences? Could the fact that there were many attributions in the same context to the author whose paragraphs Malhotra is supposed to have plagiarized be an insurmountable obstacle for some readers in noting that credit has been given where it was due? Or, did the readers experience a blinding let-down when the attributions suddenly stopped coming?


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