These are lonely times for scholarship in India.Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti( SBAS) has claimed yet another scalp in the form of the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book ‘The Hindus:An alternative history’ by its publishers Penguin,India. The author, while ‘angry and disappointed’ by this decision has said that she can understand the plight of her publishers who were fighting a criminal case and not a civil suit. It had serious implications for their physical safety. Fellow scholars and academics are upset and angry that the publishers have caved in.
The question we need to ask ourselves, however is about our own role in this whole affair. There were not too many voices of protest when the same SBAS forced the Calicut University to remove a poem by an unknown poet from an English language textbook alleging that the poet was a ‘terrorist’. Its editors felt compelled to apologize as they were threatened with a probe into their possible involvement in a conspiracy network to jeopardize national security. Continue reading An Ice Age for Indian scholarship
Shahid Amin has earlier written about the role of the Oxford University Press (India) in the censorship of AK Ramanjuan’s essay on the Ramayana. This press release, signed by a group of Indian scholars at Oxford University, comes to us via Agrima Bhasin.
Date: 30 November 2011
A petition by members of Oxford University has condemned Oxford University Press (OUP) India’s unflattering role and its deafening silence on the controversy surrounding Delhi University’s recent decision to drop A.K. Ramanujan’s essay (Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation). This petition has gained the abounding support of Oxford intelligentsia across 15 departments and 20 constituent colleges. Signatories include distinguished faculty members, senior academics and students.
In 2008 OUP India unceremoniously decided to stop publication of the only two books (Paula Richman’s Many Ramayanas and Vinay Dharwadker’s The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan) containing Ramanujan’s essay. This happened to coincide with legal proceedings instituted inter alia against OUP India by fringe religious and cultural groups. OUP India’s prolonged subsequent silence on this matter lent widespread credence to the contention that OUP India caved in to external pressure thereby compromising its stated goals of “…[furthering] excellence in research, scholarship… by publishing worldwide.”
Continue reading Oxford University Members Demand that OUP-India Stand by Ramanujan Essay