[INDOLOGY] MCLI / Pollock Petition

Nityanand Misra nmisra at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 10:17:41 UTC 2016

Dear list,

While Niti Central (which recently shut down) and Swarajya are certainly
pro-right/conservative magazines (just like The Hindu is
left-leaning/liberal), but to describe them as ‘propaganda’ would be an
exaggeration, just like calling The Hindu as ‘communist’ or ‘Chinese
mouthpiece’ would be (in fact, the Friends of Tibet society actually calls
The Hindu ‘a mouthpiece of the Chinese communist party’, this was covered
by Pradip Ninan Thomas in his book ‘Negotiating Communication Rights: Case
Studies from India’). In a recent article, the Financial Times described
the Swarajya magazine as ‘conservative’.[1] Even Sreenivasan Jain, a
journalist with the NDTV (whose political leaning are no secret), described
the Niti Central as a ‘right-wing site’ in an article in 2013.[2]

As for Mr. Rajiv Malhotra’s latest book, it has already received attention
in India, in both the academic sphere and outside, way beyond websites like
Niti Central and Swarajya. I shared a link to the review of the book by
Bibek Debroy in the moderate/centrist OPEN Magazine. The book carries a
quote by Prof. Arvind Sharma (Birks Professor of Comparative Religion,
McGill University) on its front cover. It has earned praise from
Mahamahopadhyay Dayananda Bhargava (renowned Sanskrit scholar), S. R. Bhatt
(Chairman of ICPR), K. Ramasubramanian (Sanskrit scholar and signatory #1
on the MCLI petition), Roddam Narasimha (aerospace scientist), and Dilip
Chakrabarti (Professor Emeritus, Cambridge) among others. Some leading
educational institutes in India which have hosted Mr Malhotra since January
include the JNU, Ramakrishna Mission (Chennai), Vedic Gurukulam (Bidadi),
Art of Living Ashram (Bangalore), Chinmaya Mission, IIT Bombay, TISS, IIT
Madras, and Karnataka Sanskrit University.

As for attention outside the world of scholars, Mr. Malhotra's book was
launched by very well-known personalities: Subhash Chandra (Chairman of the
pro-right Zee Media) in Mumbai, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (eminent spiritual
leader and humanitarian) in Bengaluru, and Dr. Najma Akbarali Heptulla
(Minority Affairs Minister, Government of India) in Delhi. Prominent
journalists and authors who have discussed his book include Madhu Kishwar
(pro-right academic and author), Amish Tripathi (best-selling author), and
T. V. Mohandas Pai (Chairman, Manipal Global Education).

I need not add that the book is selling well (it is a category bestseller
on Amazon India) and Harper Collins would be happy with their investment.

I doubt if all this attention can be ‘staged’ or ‘managed’. There is an
elephant in the room. Love him or hate him, Mr. Malhotra is becoming too
notable to ignore.

Regards, Nityanand

[1] Amy Kazmim (February 21 2016) India divided over right to political
freedom. Financial Times.

[2] Sreenivasan Jain (June 29 2016). Response to Niti Central article on
NDTV's Ishrat Jahan report. NDTV.
On Mar 1, 2016 12:13 AM, "Ananya Vajpeyi" <vajpeyi at csds.in> wrote:

> 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,
> Yours,
> 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*
> *http://www.csds.in/faculty_ananya_vajpeyi.htm
> <http://www.csds.in/faculty_ananya_vajpeyi.htm>*
> *http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674048959&content=book
> <http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674048959&content=book>*
> *http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/programs/gen/gefellows/current/ananya_vajpeyi.html
> <http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/programs/gen/gefellows/current/ananya_vajpeyi.html>*
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