[INDOLOGY] MCLI / Pollock Petition

Ananya Vajpeyi vajpeyi at csds.in
Mon Feb 29 18:41:01 UTC 2016

Dear Colleagues,

As many on this list including Dominik Wujastyk, Matthew Kapstein, Madhav
Deshpande and Tyler Williams, among others, have pointed out, the petition
to remove Professor Pollock from the General Editorship of the Murty
Classical Library of India suffers from either a deliberate or a genuine
misreading of his writings and lectures. Moreover it is motivated not just
by his vocal stand in favour of the freedom of expression and the right to
dissent in India and elsewhere reiterated numerous times of late, but also
by a desire on the part of the sponsors and writers of this petition to
generate some sliver of scholarly attention for Rajiv Malhotra's new book,
The Battle for Sanskrit.

Apart from being a plagiarist, Malhotra is no scholar of anything, least of
all Indology or Sanskrit. (I'm not even sure if any book by him can be
accurately described as "new", given his record of plagiarism). His entire
strategy of calling attention to his publications, such as they are, is to
make ad hominem attacks on bona fide scholars, especially Professor
Pollock, and now almost exclusively him (though others of us have been
collateral damage in the past).

In my view, Malhotra's latest book deserves not one minute of our time, and
is best left to rightwing propaganda publications like Swarajya, Niti
Central and other blogs, newspapers etc. of that ilk to review (or not).
It's an echo chamber of Hindutva paranoia and self-congratulation,
untouched by scholarship. Why spoil their party?

As for the 10,000 signatures on the petition, these things are easily
managed by the cyber-machinery of the Sangh Parivar. Not for nothing are
there entire dedicated cells of trolls and bots whose job it is to swell
the numbers, as it were, merely the digital reflection of a larger ideology
of majoritarianism at work.

I am assured by the concerned editors at Harvard University Press and by
Professor Pollock himself that HUP and Harvard's legal and PR departments
are well placed to handle this kind of -- well, whatever you want to call
it -- provocation, irritation, distraction, or incitement. We really need
not worry our heads engaging with these people as though they might
actually know something about the classics, of any language, whether of
early or modern South Asia.

Goodness knows we all have enough on our plates, with JNU and other public
universities and their students across India in dire need of our material
and moral support at a moment of real political crisis.

In solidarity, and urging us all to #StandwithJNU,


Ananya Vajpeyi.

*Ananya Vajpeyi, PhD *
*Associate Fellow*
*Centre for the Study of Developing Societies*
*29 Rajpur Road, Civil Lines*
*New Delhi 110054*
*e: vajpeyi at csds.in <vajpeyi at csds.in>*
*ext: 229*




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