Indian public disagrees with Rohan Murty's defensiveness

Rajiv Malhotra posted a news item which appeared in the Economic Times dated 3 March 2016.

Rajiv says:
Rohan Murty defends the choice of Pollock (as expected) with the following words:

"The root of the problem, he said, is that there aren't more scholars in India capable of carrying out such translations from ancient literature."

So he admits what I have said, namely, that the Murthys and their supporters believe Indians are not up to the job of Indology. Firstly, is this true? Secondly, if true, is it curable with a program to upgrade the quality and quantity of Indology in India? Or is it some kind of inferiority we Indians inherently have compared to Westerners?

If it is curable, then all the more we ought to bring about this upgrade in India's own Indology. To feed US Indology is shortsighted, and makes the gap even worse.

JP weighs in:
I think now the focus of discussion should be on Rohan Murthy's words, "The root of the problem, he said, is that there aren't more scholars in India capable of carrying out such translations from ancient literature."
1. Are there NO SCHOLARS in India capable to carry out such a work?
2. Rohan Murthy seems to have evaluated whole of Indian scholars to make such a CONCLUSIVE remark.
3. On the statement below in italics, Did Murthy make a public announcement of his library and did he call for all the scholars and make an evaluation before settling in for Pollock?

"Murty said not one of the signatories had approached him since he launched the library and questioned the timing of the petition instead. What stopped any of these people from getting in touch with me? Not one single person came forward, which is incredible,"

Rajiv: I doubt he did anything similar to my tour across India to get to know traditional scholars both in Sanskrit universities and those in Hindu matthas. This requires getting out of comfort zone and doing serious tapasya.

Srinath chips in:
Fact is that rohan ultimately is a junior money bag with no domain knowledge in the very field he is outsourcing.

He also (arrogantly) believes that it wasn't his due diligence needed re: how many insider scholars exist etc. rather it is incumbent on those scholars themselves to engage with him before he undertook such project.

All this points to the same dogma "have money will do" and because I can throw $ therefore I'm not the one lacking in research but others are (!)

Only solution for such deep rooted anti samskrti is for insider movement to devalue products resulting from this "library" by presenting authentic alternatives.

Until then arrogant rich boys will keep referring to genuine samskrt and India based scholars as "peanut gallery"...

Subramanian says:
He also asks which lines in his translations do people have a problem with , and doubts that any of the critics have read any of the translated volumes. (...)

Rajiv: Question should be whether ANYONE WHATSOEVER has read their volumes?

Harish opines:
Murthy seems to have not got(or willingly ignored) the main question raised in the petition.

The potential damage that could be inflicted by a person who carries such deep biases(replete in his earlier papers).

I would have expected a well intentioned person to explain/devise a mechanism that prevents such problems. Instead, he deftly deflects the question by digressing to JNU. This for me suggests some degree of complicity. (Alas, this petition didn't happen before the JNU issue).

Prof Lal comes in:
I wonder what would Murty(s) would feel and say if an American said that India does not have any computer expertise and Indians do not know what is the meaning of computer software and hardware!

Murty (s) should simply say that their business interest in USA has forced them to take Pollack. They should be just a businessmen and should not try to judge something of which they do not know even 'a'. I will leave the world of academic if Mr. Murty(s) can read out one para of Sanskrit text or one hymn from any of the Vedas. Money does not make one scholar or intellectual.

Look at their attitude! USA does not have even fraction of what India has in terms of Sanskrit scholarship. Let Murty(s) carry "white man's burden and be their slave -- both mentally and physically", but should not impose it on nation. Many of you may recall that N. Murty spent a huge money and many articles came to be written in magazines and news papers that he is the right person to be the President of India. My God!

Here is a suggestion. Boycott being part of Murty-Pollack project in any way -- be it translation, editing, writing or even reading and citing. No one can stop you doing that.

Mallika writes:
There is a lot more to Narayan Murthy family's obsession with being in good books of WASPs than just inferiority complex. I think they consider themselves Globalized elite just like previous years "Bhandralok".

N Murthy's Son Ii Law is a Conservative member of British Parliament. His business model is still based on labor arbitrage for which easy visa regime is a necessity. He was a member of Ford Foundation and also was on NDTV board. NDTV has close connections with Communists and Congress.

So, Hindus should not expect anything from him.In fact should be vary of his willingness to harm Hindu civilization for personal reasons. More important issue is to inform our own about the BI forces and our own elites propensity to be in bed with Hinduphobic forces.

The least we can do is to popularize TBFS and ensure that our children do not take any courses in South Asian, Hinduism courses from any American Univ. Boycott the courses, then South Asianites will be under pressure and learn about hinduism from AVG, Chinmaya Mission or traditional Indian Scholars.

Arun joins the discussion:
If we take Rohan Murty seriously, in the spirit of purva-paksha, see what the petition to oust Pollock has caused several issues to be surfaced in a very public way:

1. Why do the (English-speaking) elite believe that India lacks the scholars? And why are they so miserly in growing Indian scholarship?

2. The problem of inadequate number of scholars (i.e., India has some great scholars, but far too few for a country of the size of India) can be highlighted.
What about the non-English elite, exemplified by PM Modiji think, and what do they plan to do about it?

3. That in turn leads to the whole question - what is the track that India has been on since Independence? How did India get into the position that it now seems to have to outsource the preservation popularization of its cultural DNA? What have the whole cohort of Romila Thapar and others been doing all these so many years? Isn't the failure of modern Indian universities highlighted? And most important, what is India going to do about it?

This beautiful opening to raise all these issues to a national debate and increasing public consciousness should not be lost by slinging about ad hominem attacks. This is no longer dismissable as some Hindutva thing; the problem of sustaining the Indian samskriti has been pointed out by no less than the Murtys.

Look at it: one, give some long-missing recognition to Indian scholars who can do the translations of high quality. Two, that there may not be enough to do the 500 books in the stipulated period may be highlighted, and the cause for this situation may be discussed. Three, what will the government, and philantropists and universities and people do to remedy the situation? And so on.

Please, ultimately, the samskriti is not in these books or in the shastras; it is in the practice. Rajivji is struggling to bring back purva-paksha, please try to practice it in as many situations as you can. All the shastras and literature of the past are the end-product of these and other practices we have forgotten, and not the cause. The paw mark in the soil shows the passage of a tiger, we want to revive the tiger, more paw marks will follow. What we have are the literary traces of a great civilization, merely cherishing its paw marks will not revive it.

Hari's comment made to ET is reproduced below:
Rohan, we must understand that in Indian culture several version of interpretation of Itihas, Purans, Vedas and Upnishads is available in various Indian and foreign languages. And you would understand the difference between them only if you read. But fortunately all these translation of insiders are collective have one view which is opposite to secular view. Just compare Ramayana Translation version of Insider and outsider. But do you have time for that?

Money is yours. Choice is yours. Several secular people before Pollock has tried to misinterpret our culture and this is another attempt. But this time it is huge because of your money power and internet age. You choose insider or outsider that is your choice.

But being Indian whenever people like you fund secular translation of our indian heritiage we as an insider and practitioner has full right to stand and stop you. Ultimately it is not about only money and profit of yours but about mis-interpretation of culture.

Unfortunately because of foreign education your mind trusted secular / foreigners more than the practioner and you instead of doing due dilignece and research of scholars here in India you took shortest popular route. So you chose the best of the Ameria! And now saying that in India we do not have scholars to do the kind of work which you are doing.

In india you will find all kind of people. They can do secular translation for you and secred also. But I think you were looking for a person who can do secular translation of our heritage.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is Rohanmurthy's loot,what he does with it is his own karma.He has the courage to express his idiocy and am all for it.If he thinks his money will not go to Indian scholars,so be it.So called hindutva enthusiasts to me are paper tigers,keep on bleating that breaking India forces are ganging up to minimise our heritage.I agree wholeheartedly to this view but the question is do the guys who bleat have the money and will power to change the current scenario? Bjp as a party is the best example.In all their existence since 1981,they do not have high quality local/english language print and TV media which has reach the masses.Nindutva campaigners at the moment to me look like gas bags.DrSwamy to a great extent and Rajiv malhotra to an extent are good leader to change the trend but where are the moneybags who will back their efforts? A start will be a gang of Indian scholars to interpret/translate the same sanskrit documents which he wants a whiteskin to do.Are our sanskrit scholars backed by our own money bags?