[INDOLOGY] Malhotra and plagiarism

Jesse Knutson jknutson at hawaii.edu
Wed Jul 22 19:56:06 UTC 2015

No one has asked for a ban. The demand has been for a public
acknowledgement, apology, and withdrawal of his plagiarized books from the
market. He would be welcome to reissue corrected versions, if either his
publishers or readers were keen on that. This is very distinct from calling
for a ban. Malhotra is a wealthy and influential man who has both stolen
from and disrespected a talented young scholar (known chiefly for the
pioneering work on Indian Philosophy Malhotra stole from). There is a
massive wealth and power differential between these two figures. Malhotra's
actions are very Indian ruling class, i.e. Lumpenbourgoisie, acting as if
laws don't apply to him esp. in his interactions with lesser beings.

Comparing the number of signatures in the Doniger case vs. the  Andrew
Nicholson case is not helpful. Again Andrew is a talented younger scholar,
known chiefly for his pioneering work. Wendy Doniger is an institution unto
herself, a very senior scholar, obviously slightly more famous and
connected than Andrew.  224 signatures is not a low number. It shows that
more than two hundred people want to see Malhotra exposed for his lack of
intellectual integrity, recently materialized in the vulgarest possible
way. This is not pettiness. Malhotra made a serious violation, and he
should have to answer for it.

Silence would only condone.  Here is a link to the petition again for
others who may not have seen it:


On Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 8:38 PM, <koenraad.elst at telenet.be> wrote:

> 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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Jesse Ross Knutson PhD
Assistant Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali, Department of Indo-Pacific
Languages and Literatures
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
452A Spalding

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