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Controversy

Persecutors Won't Read The Classics

The hounding of Prof Sheldon Pollock is the project of a misguided coven of academics

Persecutors Won't Read The Classics
Shelly’s Voice |
Persecutors Won't Read The Classics
outlookindia.com
2016-03-04T23:13:01+05:30

For nearly six years, the prestigious Murty Classical Library of India (MCLI) has been persevering on its ambitious goal of translating classic Indic texts which it hopes will reach a new generat­ion of readers. But does it fit—or even aspire to do so—into the Make in India ‘ethos’? Apparently not, bizarre though the question may seem.  A move to sack renowned Sanskritist Sheldon Pollock of Columbia University, who heads the translation project created by Rohan Murty, son of Infosys foun­der N.R. Narayana Murthy, emerged last week in an online petition on the portal change.org. Signed by 132 Indian academics, it sought the removal of Pollock as the chief editor of MCLI because of his views which, they alleged, echoed those of “Macaulay and Max Weber”. His previous writings were ‘deeply flawed’, and ‘misrepresented’ Indian cultural heritage, the petition went.

To many academics who had worked with the very erudite Pollock, besides the incredulity it evoked, it was the timing of the demand that seemed dubious. For, the call for his removal came weeks after Pollock supported a statement issued by several US academics (Noam Chomsky among them) criticising the BJP government for handling of events on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus last month and for generating “a culture of authoritarian menace”. This is how the petitioners put it to Rohan Murty. “We do not find him petitioning against his own US government’s authoritative policies within its borders and around the world. Thus, it is crystal clear that Pollock has shown disrespect for the unity and integrity of India. We submit that such an individual cannot be considered objective and neutral enough to be in charge of your historic translation project.” The political line there being obvious enough.

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