[INDOLOGY] New article on Sanskrit

Arlo Griffiths arlogriffiths at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 18 06:26:50 UTC 2016

Dear Dr. Vajpeyi,

I do apologize for having misspelled your name. Just to make this explicit, because it was not clear from your other message whether you have now classified me among those who offer "thinly-veiled apologetics" of the current government of India's policies: I did not write because I disagree with your political positions, but because I wondered whether it is helpful for your cause, and morally defensible, to be anything but critical of the Emergency. I simultaneously admit that I have no more than superficial knowledge of that period of Indian history, and will be happy to receive information, on or off list, that will allow me to nuance my perspective.

Part of the problem in the increasingly polarized political scenes we see all over the world is that people can't even agree on what the facts are, and refuse to talk about them in a manner that is conducive to solving problems. As a generally silent observer of political debates on this list, I conclude by expressing the hope that you and Nityanand Misra (who has taken it upon himself to challenge you on most occasions when you write to the list), and more generally the two political camps that you two seem to represent, will start to attempt to find some common ground. At least on this list such an effort may actually be realistically achievable.

With best wishes,

Arlo Griffiths

École française d'Extrême-Orient

From: Ananya Vajpeyi <vajpeyi at csds.in>
Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2016 7:55 AM
To: Arlo Griffiths
Cc: Nityanand Misra; Indology
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] New article on Sanskrit

I would be glad to list for the benefit of those who have been cut off from daily news of Indian politics for the past two and half years, the innumerable "facts" of discrimination, beatings, lynchings, rapes, arson and killings of Muslims, Dalits, Christians, tribals and other vulnerable groups all over the country. However, I fear it would take us rather far afield from the principal fact-based issue addressed in this article -- viz., the Modi government's policies with regards to Sanskrit language education, and the growing misuse of Sanskrit in the BJP-RSS agenda to saffronize the Indian polity, against the spirit and the letter of the Constitution.

The "facts" of majoritarianism came up as the context in which to answer Artur Karp's query, since the "facts" about the role of Sanskrit in furthering Hindutva ideology have to be understood against this broader background of the ongoing struggle in India's politics.
To your point, Arlo Griffiths (and I would expect a linguist to take the trouble to spell my name correctly, if you wanted to address me), it might be worth debating, in some other forum and on some other occasion, the relative merits and demerits of covertly illiberal democracy as against explicitly authoritarian rule. If an "elected" BJP-PDP state government can feel it within its powers to impose close to 10 weeks of curfew in Jammu and Kashmir, killing, arresting, detaining and injuring civilians at will, deploying thousands of additional military and paramilitary forces on top of the already bellicose and excessive militarization of the Valley, clearly something is going terribly wrong with Indian democracy in the hands of the Hindu Right.

I would point you to dozens of news reports, op-eds, analytical articles, policy documents, legal opinions and so on, that leave no room for doubt about the alarming encroachment of the state of exception on the rule of law in India under the current dispensation, democratically elected as it is, but Indology in my view is not the appropriate space for that conversation.

Ananya Vajpeyi
Fellow, CSDS
vajpeyi at csds.in<mailto:vajpeyi at csds.in>

On Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 12:36 PM, Arlo Griffiths <arlogriffiths at hotmail.com<mailto:arlogriffiths at hotmail.com>> wrote:

Dear Dr. Vajpayee,

I join Nityanand's call in favor of keeping political messages as close as possible to reliable reports on facts. I was concerned by your comparing the Emergency of the 1970s in a positive light with the current government of India. If we cannot all agree that democratic rule is better than any alternative, then it seems to me that we lose all foundation for debate.

Arlo Griffiths

École française d'Extrême-Orient

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info<mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info>> on behalf of Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com<mailto:nmisra at gmail.com>>
Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2016 4:08 AM
To: Ananya Vajpeyi
Cc: Indology
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] New article on Sanskrit

On 16 September 2016 at 12:50, Ananya Vajpeyi <vajpeyi at csds.in<mailto:vajpeyi at csds.in>> wrote:

Minorities have never been so vulnerable at any time since Partition and Independence, nor has media discourse been so muted and stifled. (This reportedly happened during the Emergency in the mid-1970s as well -- but at least then, it was a properly declared period of emergency, and people were aware that the rule of law had been suspended in favour of a state of exception).

Dear Dr. Vajpayee

Is there any statistical evidence (for example, communal violence rate or casualties/number of communal riots per capita) to back the claim that minorities in India have never been so vulnerable since 1947 as they are now? As per the recently released "Crime in India" 2015 report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), number of riots were almost the same in 2015 as in 2014: there have been more agrarian riots, but less communal riots.

The full NCRB 2015 report is here: http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2015/FILES/CrimeInIndia2015.pdf
There are several reports summarizing the riot statistics, including one in The Hindu here: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/327-rise-in-agrarian-riots-in-2015-ncrb-report-shows/article9051348.ece

Same for media discourse: are there any data-based statistics available to conclude that media discourse is the most muted or stifled now in India?

Would it not better be if such a claims are backed by evidence based on data?

Thanks, Nityanand


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


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