Intolerance unplugged – Frontline


The educational Meera Nanda is beneath assault for her article on the Hindu proper wing’s positions on the historical past of science.

MEERA NANDA, a outstanding tutorial primarily based in the USA who works within the subject of historical past and philosophy of science and religions, is being hounded for her views within the article “
Hindutva’s science envy ” in
Frontline (September 16, 2016). With publications similar to
The God Market: How Globalisation is Making India Extra Hindu , the award-winning
Prophets Dealing with Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and the Hindu Nationalism in India , and
Science in Saffron: Skeptical Essays on Historical past of Science , Meera Nanda isn’t any stranger to assaults from Hindu majoritarian agenda-setters. She doesn’t thoughts criticism and even welcomes it whether it is constructive. However the circulation of mass emails to her peer circle with out substance and with private assaults is one thing she considers uncalled for. “I’m not nervous that individuals are attacking me. They’ve chosen this explicit technique to humiliate me in entrance of my colleagues and as a type of censorship,” she says.

Her colleagues on the Indian Institute of Science Schooling and Analysis (IISER), Mohali, the place she is at the moment a visiting school member, and different eminent individuals in establishments throughout the nation had been spammed by emails despatched from Canada and Australia. Insinuating that Meera Nanda makes use of tutorial freedom to denigrate Vedic science, Ragini Sharma, one of many spammers, hooked up a response printed on the web discussion board Hindu Publish. She quoted Rajiv Malhotra, founding father of the Infinity Basis. The Basis promotes Indic Research, and Malhotra, a Hindu nationalist, and his followers have typically focused Western students whose works don’t subscribe to the Hindu majoritarian world view. In her mail, despatched on September 6, Ragini Sharma went on to assault Sheldon Pollock, Wendy Doniger and Paul Courtright. All three, along with others similar to Jeffrey Kripal, Richard Fox Younger and Anantanand Rambachan, have been the favorite targets of Malhotra in some unspecified time in the future or the opposite.

The spammer wrote: “So what’s the context for Nanda’s work? She is, utilizing Malhotra’s terminology, a Sepoy—loyal to her American Orientalist heritage and its creators in direction of the political and tutorial aim of denigrating Hindu Dharma (what they label as Hinduism). That is evident in her callous depiction of Hindu students and icons similar to Swami Vivekananda and others, as described earlier.” Malhotra himself subsequently tweeted Ragini’s response to Meera Nanda.

One other spammer, Prabhat Gupta, on September 5 didn’t even sustain the pretence of an educational engagement and known as Meera Nanda a traitor, a cocky idiot, a canine with a collar, a canine and so forth and so forth. Pattern this: “I notice that you’re robust on ATHEISM… however I see one thing that I want to explain to you first. It’s known as ‘canine with a collar’ impact. Successfully a collar across the neck retains the canine behind a line. How does it work, I hear you say?: Properly if the canine crosses a line, the grasp, by way of a distant, is ready to go a small voltage which is non life threatening and due to this fact retains the canine in line. Teachers such as you remind me of that canine …they are going to bark however by no means cross a line. Let me illustrate it additional: We all know you’re a leftist/marxist radical and a few of you name for separation of India with POK and so on.”

Meera Nanda’s colleagues on the institute have stood up for her proper to tutorial freedom. Dr Arvind, Professor of Physics at IISER, wrote to Prabhat Gupta requesting him to not copy him in such mails sooner or later.

Prof. Anu Sabhlok, a member of the Humanities school on the institute, felt that tutorial disagreements could possibly be expressed in a extra respectful method and in applicable boards similar to journals and conferences. She advised
Frontline : “If Meera printed her piece in
Frontline , then a commentary on the piece by these in disagreement may be despatched to
Frontline —and so the dialogue can proceed in a public discussion board. Alternatively, if individuals don’t agree along with her e book, then they will write a e book overview and flow into it in public boards. Writing private e-mails and cc-ing it to her colleagues is an act of cowardice and may be very unprofessional.” She additionally felt that social scientists are educated to have a look at social constructions, political processes, financial exchanges and cultural transformations in an analytical method, which is commonly important. “We can’t let our work be pushed by concern. Such intimidation must be handled severely on the outset because it has the potential to silence a variety of important and good work. Meera is a longtime scholar and can also be brave—if there are threats and undignified backlashes, then a variety of youthful students who usually are not but safe would possibly self-censor their work. This would be the loss of life of fine scholarship,” she stated.

Prof. V. Rajesh of the Division of Historical past objected to the language used within the mail and stated it amounted to a racist and patriarchal assault on Meera Nanda within the garb of patriotism and nationwide delight. “Clearly, it is a tactic to intimidate and concern threats within the type of exerting stress on colleagues and officers in energy to ‘act’ for the views expressed by the creator. This can be a fascistic try to impose outdated views and values which don’t stand the check of scientific rigour and verification. The truth is that exhibits their [the Hindu right wing’s] poverty of creativeness, technique and scholarship: they don’t have another civil and civilised strategies of response aside from intimidation, private slander and issuing threats,” he stated.

Defending Meera Nanda’s article in
Frontline , Prof. Rajesh stated: “Those that despatched emails to us towards Meera Nanda have completely failed to know the tactic and the corresponding argument of the creator in her publication. For instance, they had been accusing Meera Nanda of being an agent of American Indology, so on and so forth—all acquainted tropes of the Hindu proper wing’s accusations —atheists, Marxists, colonialists, and so forth. What Meera Nanda makes an attempt in her writings on the historical past of science is a comparative technique and a scrutiny of a few of the claims made within the historical past of science in India. The comparative technique is completely alien to nationalist and Hindu right-wing ideology, which thrives on misplaced patriotism and Hindu delight. When a few of the obtained knowledge within the historical past of science in India is questioned utilizing the tactic of comparative historical past, the standard response from the nationalist and Hindu right-wing teams is to assault, dismiss and dump the creator as agent of American Indology.”

A part of a pattern

The assault on Meera Nanda can’t be seen in isolation. It’s a part of a harmful pattern of the Hindutva brigade changing into more and more hostile to people and teams not conforming to their world view. And the Web serves as a simple battlefield. A living proof is the assault on Wendy Doniger. Her e book
The Hindus: An Various Historical past was pulped after a authorized criticism was filed by Dinanath Batra of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, a right-wing NGO. An egg was hurled at her at a lecture in 2003 in London by a protester who objected to a non-Hindu like Wendy Doniger speaking about Hinduism. However there are additionally others who’ve been equally hounded. Prof. Richard Fox Younger, who teaches at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) together with Andrew J. Nicholson, creator of
Unifying Hinduism , accused Malhotra of plagiarism from Nicholson’s e book in his
Indra’s Internet . When Prof. Younger known as him out on Twitter with evidences of plagiarism, mass emails went out to his colleagues on the seminary from Ram Jagessar, an Indo-Caribbean Canadian-Hindu journalist writing from Toronto. “Characterising my tweets because the ‘rantings of an individual crazed by envy and rage’, Jagessar referred to himself as a member of the ‘5,000 robust Rajiv Malhotra Dialogue Group’. Stating that he was ‘about to launch a large ranging expose’ of me as ‘an unsightly Christian tutorial troll’, he boasted of with the ability to unleash towards PTS a barrage of digital missiles, utilizing a ‘record of 4,500 Hindu organisations world huge’. The ‘gloves [would] come off’, Jagessar warned, until his circumstances had been met—an apology from me to Rajiv Malhotra, ‘admitting the error of my methods’ and promising to ‘stop and desist [my] idiotic and ineffective tweets’,” wrote Prof. Younger in
Caravan . Malhotra subsequently eliminated all references to Nicholson’s work from his e book and earlier this yr, when he was on the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, he defended the plagiarism cost by passing it off as “copy enhancing errors of a technical nature”.

Younger bemoans: “My expertise has a lot in frequent with that of Anantanand Rambachan, a professor of Hinduism Research right here within the U.S. who has been a goal of Malhotra’s anger even longer than I’ve. And when PM Modi first visited the U.S. after his election, and American South Asianists and Indian American students signed a petition warning of the danger of IT tasks involving the Indian authorities, the identical Malhotra poison pen writers went to work, probably the most mischievous of all being a Toronto-based follower, @ Ram Jagessar. Jagessar, although, was uncovered by
IndiaWest , a California on-line journal catering to the NRI neighborhood. He was named and shamed for his harassing letters laced with imprecise threats of retaliation. The place is the solidly tutorial, non-polemical essay that seems within the mainstream print?”

Do these makes an attempt at silencing different viewpoints by way of intimidation resonate with the academia there? “Students typically wish to be left alone, however when the smallish, loud-mouthed and obnoxiously RW cohort within the NRI inhabitants breathes down their necks, they typically grow to be guarded and self-protective. For good motive, contemplating the accidents many have suffered!” says Younger.


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