[INDOLOGY] Malhotra and plagiarism

koenraad.elst at telenet.be koenraad.elst at telenet.be
Wed Jul 22 15:08:55 UTC 2015

Dear listfolk, 
After having provided the link to what Malhotra has to say to Andrew Nicholson's attack on him (linked even earlier), here is the link to what he is doing about  it: http://swarajyamag.com/culture/nicholsons-untruths/   Briefly, in agreement with the publisher, he is throwing Nicholson entirely out of his book, replacing him by Indian authors writing on the same unifying-Hinduism efforts. After all, he had only quoted a Westerner because that is more prestigious and unsuspect, but there is a lot of better knowledge about Hindu tradition among Hindus themselves. In the spirit of decolonization, he is taking this opportunity to highlight Indian scholars in the "decolonized" second version of Indra's Net. The broader context of which the present controversy forms part, is given here:  http://www.firstpost.com/living/decolonising-indology-rajiv-malhotra-wont-follow-rules-set-west-2356234.html 
Established Western scholars who only talk to one another, might not realize it, but as I notice in non-mainstream media, Malhotra is turning the tables on his attackers, and is coming out of this affair with increased prestige. 
While some of you have provided links to the attacks on him, it has fallen to me to provide links to his responses. Given your apparent interest in the affair, this must have been a useful service. Amid the holy indignation about plagiarism by a man who has amply referred to Nicholson and quoted him many times, thus annulling the very rationale a plagiarist would have, I find it more anomalous that so many academics consider it perfectly normal to hear (and act on) only one half of the story. As Hegel said, "das Wahre ist das Ganze" (truth is the whole). But no, the fact that I have made his voice audible has served as proof among several scholars that I must be in agreement with him, or even in his pay. The latter allegation, and conspiracy theory, sure to be a hit among fishwives, betrays an interesting mentality: the assumption that defending someone's right to be heard implies agreeing with him. By that principle, even Hitler and Stalin were champions of free speech -- at least the free speech of those who agreed with them. It ought to be obvious to scholars that hearing a position and agreeing with that position are two different things. Well yeah, while the affair loses its steam, it becomes time for me to formulate my own thoughts about it, tomorrow or so. 
Fortunately, we can conclude on a positive note. We should take heart from the complaint uttered here that, while so many people signed a petition opposing the pulping of Wendy Doniger's book, so few have now signed the petition demanding the pulping of Malhotra's book. At that time, I wrote that there may be many things wrong with Doniger's book (indeed, a great many), but that banning it is not the answer. It seems that today, a healthy majority here thinks that to the few things wrong with Malhotra's book, banning is still not the right answer. 
Kind regards, 
Koenraad Elst      

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