Sunday, May 22, 2016




Scholars for People
MAY 20, 2016 — India Stays!

Scholars for People is happy to announce that India will not be replaced with "South Asia" in the California history frameworks. The Instructional Quality Commission voted today to let the name of the "Ancient India" chapter remain as it was, and will not change it to "South Asia" or "India (South Asia" as previously announced.

This is an important moment for everyone who rose up spontaneously to make this petition a powerful symbol of the aspirations and hopes of the people of India and the Indian diaspora (and for every supporter who believed in honesty in education and spoke up for it). Each and every of the 25,000 people, Indian and otherwise, who supported the petition deserves credit for speaking up for the basic right every human being has to the dignity and meaning of their name.

India will also NOT be deleted from some key edits that would have made it seem like there was no India outside of an "Islamic civilization stretching from the mediterranean to the Indian ocean."

"Hinduism" will also not be deleted and replaced with the sterile phrase "religion of ancient India." The commission also backtracked on its earlier decision to accept an edit by the South Asia Faculty Group deleting references to Vyasa and Valmiki.

We will share more details on the meeting and the next steps shortly.

For now, let us just say Satyameva Jayate, and India Stays!

Monday, May 16, 2016


Dear Friends:

The sepoys recruited in massive numbers from India helped establish and preserve the British empire; and now the 21st century Indian sepoys are helping American whites to rule India intellectually! Is there any hope for India, one wonders?


INDIA FACTS Truth to be Told


South Asianist sepoys oppose ‘Idea of India’
Why are these South Asianists denying the Dalit-American children in California the right to know that their ancestors were among the most revered saints in all of India?

The Caravan published an article titled ‘In California, A Debate Over History Curricula Has Brought to Fore Denials of Caste in the Indian American Community.’ by its copy-editor Aria Thaker on April 12, 2016. The article alleges that in the on-going debate over the portrayal of India and Hinduism in the California school textbooks, the Hindu groups, which submitted the edits, have tried to erase references to the caste system. Further, it completely ignores the raging issue- the attempt to erase references to India and Hinduism, which is being opposed by various Hindu groups, and instead tries to portray the issue as one between RSS-affiliated Hindu-American groups trying to put forward Hindutva agenda and South Asian Faculty Group trying to promote truth and objectivity.
Subsequent to this, on April 22, 2016, The Caravan published a rejoinder- ‘Denial and Destructiveness’ sent by Vamsee Juluri and Yvetter Rosser, who lead Scholars for People- a collective of academics who oppose the South Asian faculty group, along with a response from Aria Thaker to the rejoinder. In her response, Aria Thaker ignores the issues raised in the rejoinder sent by Juluri and Rosser, and instead dismisses their concerns by stating “For all of their claims about the attempted erasure of “a Hindu or even Indian civilization,” Juluri, Rosser and other Hindu advocates fail to recognise the human effects of the erasures being committed by their stance on the debate.” Subsequent to the response by Aria Thaker, Yvette Rosser sent her “Final Response” to Thaker on April 28, 2006, which The Caravan decided to not publish, after a week of ‘deliberation.’
Here is the full text of the “Final Response” written by Yvette Rosser, that The Caravan refused to publish.
This is one more attempt from me to help Aria Thakar and the editors of Caravan to lay to rest their seemingly persistent confusion about what is happening right now in California. As the only scholar involved in the California history debate since 2005 with actual expertise in how history is taught in schools (a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin [2003]; dissertation title: “Curricula as Destiny: Forging National Identities in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh”- a comparison of high school history textbooks; an MA Thesis in Asian Studies [1997]: “Global Education: India in the U.S. Secondary Social Studies”, examined the academic treatment of non-Western cultures, particularly South Asia.), I must say that it is clear from the original article by Ms. Thakar and her more recent response last week, that she is trying very hard to deny readers an objective picture of the California history frameworks review process and the Scholars for People petition protesting the elimination of the words “India” and “Hinduism” from numerous key places in the curriculum. Her journalistic efforts are a result of her predetermined desire to reduce a broad set of issues to a mostly baseless allegation about “Saffron” inspired caste-revisionism.

Silencing Dissenting Scholarship

After my initial phone interviews with Ms. Thakar in which she came across as a cordial and intelligent young reporter, I am surprised that she would respond to the data presented on caste and non-caste edits by Prof Juluri and me with non-verifiable and reckless allegations about our “failing to recognize the human effects of the erasures”. Clearly, our stance on the debate was grounded in our academic disciplines, however, she dismissively equates our perspectives and scholarly objections in the same intentionally pejorative sentence with “that of other Hindu groups”.
Our position on the debate, first of all, cannot be lumped into some vague monolithic stereotype about “Hindu groups” tweeting victory over Marxism. One of the reasons our first response to her article included graphs detailing data on the edits presented by various groups, individuals, and scholars involved in this process, was to show precisely that there is a diversity of positions in the debate on what is often loosely called “the Hindu side”.
The observations and voices of these various groups and individuals cannot be reduced to attempts to sanitize the depiction of caste (or gender) or the humorous claim that we have manipulated South Asian geography to relocate the Indus Valley Civilization and thereby reclaim it from Pakistan.(Note: Their bibliography was totally one-sided and did not include the many books of archeologists working at IVC sites in Gujarat and Haryana.)
You may have noticed that the scholar who submitted the most edits regarding caste, was Professor Ramdas Lamb from the University of Hawaii. Professor Lamb has worked intimately with groups formally known as ‘untouchables” some who now prefer to be called “Harijans” and some are officially referenced as “Dalits”. Professor Lamb’s eight suggested editorial corrections certainly in no way attempted to erase the hardship and discrimination experienced by members of the marginalized castes with whom he has had intimate contact for over four decades.
The data is quite clear that the edits requested by different Hindu groups have different emphases on caste and non-caste issues (and it is also worth noting that the group mentioned in the RSS tweet quoted by Thakar in her original article submitted 33 edits of which only 3 were related to varna and jati).
More importantly, it is also noteworthy that the caste-related edits submitted by these groups cannot all be simply assumed to be about denial of caste! (Note: 28% of the edits were about caste- inclusive of those submitted by Professor Lamb, who as mentioned is a champion of Indians formally known as untouchables. In our original analysis Prof Juluri and I stated that the edits on caste represented slightly under one-quarter of all edits, we stand corrected, it was 28%).
If Ms. Thakar wishes to prove that all 28% of these edits were meant to erase Dalits from the curriculum, by all means she should consult the primary documents and attempt to do so. She is also free to try and prove that either Prof Juluri or I support the allegedly caste-erasing changes submitted by various “Hindu groups” with whom she lumps us.  If she cannot, she should correct herself and respect that not everyone who disagrees with her particular characterization of the issues is guilty of whatever societal sacrilege or communal sins she imagines.


The tangential and baseless response from Ms. Thaker when confronted by facts that disturb the sort of spin she has tried very hard to put on the issue is evidence of a much deeper bias in the discourse today about which I spoke to her at length in our initial conversation as well. During our conversation, she asked three or four times if the organization HEF, that had worked with me on editorial suggestions during the 2006 textbook adoption process ten years ago… if they were associated with the RSS. I told her that it seemed she was subjecting me to the anti-Saffron ‘Agni Pariksha’. That is, in order to be believed, or credible, you must have never have had any association with the Sangh Parivar or never have known anyone who has been in the RSS.
I explained the hyper-politicized process of ‘Saffron-Balling” as practiced by scholars of South Asian Studies and many journalists, who need to make sure, before they can trust you, that you have never been associated in any way whatsoever with the Saffron Brigade or Saffron Menace, borrowing terminology used in the 1950’s USA, where sympathizers of the “Red Menace” were blackballed and were uniformly discriminated against, not believed, and misquoted.
Then, as now, it doesn’t really matter if you actually have an association with the Red or Saffron Menace, it just matters that you have been fingered by your accusers or by journalists. It is telling that she chose to begin her essay quoting a tweet from the RSS attempting to give them credit for events in California. She used this sensational lead-in to her story, tainting her article from the first sentence, and thereby tainting me, even after our lengthy discussion about “Saffron-balling”.

Who Decides Who is a “Hindu Supremacist”?

The fact remains that the main motivation for the South Asianist scholars is political, both in 2016 as in 2006. It has very little to do with academics, much less with what are appropriate learning materials for 6th grade American students. The South Asianists were concerned that some of the Hindus involved in suggesting editorial changes in textbooks in California are somehow tangentially associated with the BJP. Many of the signatories on the letter are of Indian origin and known to have written articles, and taken stands critical of the BJP and Narendra Modi. Their goal in injecting themselves in the textbook adoption process is based on their negative perspectives of the presumed political affiliation of the Hindus involved in the editorial exercise in the state of California.
The South Asianists are not actually motivated by the substance of the editorial suggestions rather their criticism is based on the assumed identity of those making the editorial requests. There are many examples in Aria’s article where she quotes several South Asianists, who explain their reasons for objecting to the editorial efforts of the Hindus in California in order to oppose “Hindu-supremacist groups” as mentioned by “Umar Malick, the president of the Indian American Muslim Council”.
Particularly Professor Michael Witzel and Kamala Visweswaran clearly reiterated the political motivation of their “attack” (as per their phrasing) on the Hindus working with the State Board of Education. The main effort of these Hindus, such as myself, is to ensure that Hinduism is presented to students in the same nonjudgmental and objective manner in which other religious traditions, such as Islam and Judaism are covered in the textbook narratives taught in US classrooms.
Both the scholars of South Asianism and Ms. Thakar have a very narrow negative depiction of the motivations of second generation Hindu-Americans who went to high school in the USA and were subjected to the biased presentation about India and Hinduism as found in their social studies textbooks. Now that they have the third generation Hindu-American children in the US educational system, as citizens participating in a democratic process, they feel an obligation to correct some of the negative stereotypes abounding in the textbooks.
Why does Caravan discount their educated and concerned viewpoints through the process of Saffron-balling? This is not a new tale, I had provided Ms Thakar URLs (1) (2) to my earlier study of the descriptions of India as found in American textbooks. I had also provided the URL for a detailed narrative documentation of the 2006 CA Textbook Tamasha. Before our interview, she said she had read them.

Destroying Dalit Legacies in the Name of Saving Them

What is baffling and hypocritical is that when the Hindu groups sought to include the Dalit members of society as integral members of the lineage of Indian saints and rishis, South Asianists rejected their historical narratives. Valmiki who wrote the Indian epic, the ‘Ramayana’ is considered born a Dalit by some and there is currently a caste of Dalits in India called Balmikis, who trace their ancestral heritage to the great Hindu saint Valmiki.
Astonishingly, when the Hindus stressed that in the past low castes produced some of India’s most revered saints such as Valmiki and Vyasa, the South Asia faculty actually had the names of Valmiki and Vyasa deleted from the textbooks. In their eagerness to show caste discrimination in Hinduism they actually deleted the saintly Dalits, denying their self-ascribed identity, claiming as they did, that these two saints ‘were both Brahmins’.
This point of view is certainly not the only scholarly perspective, as mentioned, there is a Dalit group called Balmikis, who claim their lineage from Valmiki. How can these South Asian scholars deny this Dalit group their ancestry? Perhaps there is some scholarly dispute as to whether Valmiki was a Dalit, but there are scholarly disputes as to whether Jesus Christ existed. Yet, how hypocritical to pretend that you are doing all this scholarly activism to protect the honor of Dalits from the so-called Saffronites, who are supposedly extracting them from the textbooks, but instead the professors extract a reference to Dalits that is lofty and ties them to spiritual meanings and yet leave in words such as ‘untouchable’.
Why are these South Asianists denying the Dalit-American children in California the right to know that their ancestors were among the most revered saints in all of India? How backwards is that? Just to prove that the Saffronites whom they are attacking are casteist, they deny the Dalits, their heroes, because those heroes are integral to Hinduism and Hinduism is casteist, circuitous backwards logic. Baffling and hypocritical! No wonder the South Asianists refer to their academic interactions with Hindu-Americans as “skirmishes”. For them it is a political battle. According to Kamala Visweswaran, an ethnic-studies professor, these Hindu-Americans in California, have “documented links to Hindutva” and therefore must be opposed.
On that point, Ms. Thakar also seems to have missed the forest for the trees as far as the Vyasa and Valmiki issue is concerned. Their names were added to the draft by the IQC last year, and then deleted upon the recommendation of the South Asia Faculty in their letter. The original line said, that “Vyasa and Valmiki were not Brahmins”. The South Asia Faculty argued that they were Brahmins and had their names deleted.
vyasa and valmikiAs neither statement is fully accurate on its own (popular understanding holds at least partially non-Brahmin parentage for both, as well as a traditionally sage-like iconography in their popular depictions), our recommendation was that the names be retained, but with a more precise language that noted that they were “not born Brahmins”.
If Ms. Thakar wishes to contest that, she surely can, since she appears to have assumed that task on behalf of some of our colleagues in the South Asia Studies faculty, who are yet to debate any of us directly on most of these points, though we have been seeking engagement on these vital topics for two decades (their refusal to debate scholars who disagree with them has of course seldom been challenged by one-sided reporters who seem to buy their pretext that they cannot lower themselves to engage with “Saffronites,” a color-coded threat perspective also implied by Ms. Thakar).
I also have to wonder why Ms. Thakar resorts to an unprofessional, extreme, and scolding tone in places, accusing Prof Juluri and me of ‘incoherence,’ ‘ill-wording’ and ‘irresponsibility’ for merely pointing out a self-contradiction in the South Asia Faculty position about caste. Angry words often show the lack of substance rather than anything else.
She challenges Prof Juluri and me to prove that the South Asia Studies faculty spoke for lower castes. Ms. Thakar can read through page 2 of their November letter, where they write about how “presenting caste as entirely benign harms those of South Asian heritage like Dalits who are of castes deemed ‘untouchable’ by elites.” While we disagree with our colleagues’ claims on several issues, we also have to wonder if they really wish to be seen as NOT speaking in support of lower castes as Ms. Thakar seems to be making them out to be!
She appears to have completely missed the point of our criticism here. Scholars for People have no interest in sanitizing caste or supporting a loose and euphemistic notion of caste as independent of birth. We do however feel that it is an injustice to delete the names of Vyasa and Valmiki given their symbolism to several lower caste Hindu communities, some of whom spoke up as part of the much demonized “Hindu groups” in Sacramento. The fact is that all Dalits in California are not blindly supportive of the South Asian faculty position. Many are practicing Hindus who do not share the popular narrow academic view of ancient Hinduism as an exclusively Brahmanical construction. Indeed, Vyasa and Valmiki are central to their identity.

“Welcome to the 19th century!”

Incidentally, if American society were presented to twelve year old children in India using the same sensationalist methodology in which India is presented to children in the USA, what would a child in India think of the United States of America?  In U.S. textbooks, India is frozen in time and at most places a negative appraisal of the past is stressed. After studying about India, American students often think Hindus burn their widows, starve girl babies, and worship rats, and particularly that there is a group of Indians known as “Brahmins” who force another group of Indians called “untouchables” to carry human excrement on their heads.
Using this same negative paradigm, children in India, after studying about the USA, would think that women are often burned at the stake after standing trial for witchcraft and they must march in the streets for their basic rights and, especially, that African-Americans are still slaves. Luckily, textbooks in India don’t do this. It would be to our mutual benefit if textbooks in the USA didn’t fall into the trap of using outdated models and so-called post-orientalist /neo-Marxist theories that promote textbook narrations with subtle and not-so-subtle biases.
I have spoken to numerous professors of South Asian Studies about working with me to take the anti-Hindu bias out of American social studies textbooks, and several have replied, “But, that’s the way we have always taught about India.” Welcome to the 19th century!Ms. Thakar should educate herself sufficiently to recognize that a critique of power is not a zero-sum game.
Though a concern about sanitizing caste by some groups or individuals, who at any rate have little power to make such changes, might still be a valid concern, it should be not an excuse for a privileged group of first-world scholars (with the power to deny whole communities, their names) to interrogate their own theoretical positions in sanitizing medieval imperialism and conquest to attempt to deny the very existence of non-Muslims in South Asia prior to 1300CE. Importantly, that unnamed group eventually came to be known as Hindus living in the areas east of the Indus, from where we get the word Hindu, a name which has incidentally been used by Persians and Europeans to describe those people since approximately 600BC.
I disagree thoroughly with Ms. Thakar’s attempt in her response to prove that the replacement of “conquest” with “expansion” by the South Asia Faculty is a matter of mere geographical precision. This expansion approach assumes that there were no ‘natives’ living in the subcontinent prior to the Islamic ‘expansions’. In the USA, in the 1970’s the Native American Movement worked to include their very existence in the textbooks as something other than a stereotype of wild men shooting arrows from horseback. Prior to this effort, the same genre of narratives was used to describe American expansion across the continent, as if it were empty of human habitation. There most certainly is a difference between expansion and conquest, ask “Indians” on both sides of the planet.

The Media War on Scholars for People’s Petition

Ms. Thakar expressed that somehow the press had “overwhelmingly focused” on our petition (though it is surprising that she offered only one link to one report on a TV news website as proof of this “overwhelming focus”) and did not talk about other issues like caste.
But the fact is that for nearly a decade, the California textbooks issue has been depicted in the mainstream media unilaterally and inaccurately as little more than a Hindu extremist issue (aka Saffron-balled), and the past few weeks have been no different, with some very unfortunate attempts to misrepresent our petition coming from publications such as LA Times and Inside Higher Education.
It is therefore very disappointing that Ms. Thakar ignored an opportunity to expand the conversation beyond spin and clichés, and chose to highlight this debate with baseless allegations about our views on caste and humanity.
The fact remains, that the Scholars for People petition and the popular support for it, arose not because the IQC denied any edits that might have sanitized caste, but for a different reason altogether: the willful and intentional elimination of both the geographical existence of India and very name Hindu. Describing Hinduism as one of the world’s great religious traditions is actually the mission of the 6th grade social studies curriculum, whereas the South Asianists have attempted to eradicate all references to India and Hinduism except when referring to social divisions, conflict, and casteism.
If Ms. Thakar thinks that 28% of rejected edits that had something to do with caste (not necessarily revisionist) constitute cause for concern, should it not also be the case that we should be even more concerned about a situation where over 50% of highly debatable edits denying the very existence of India or Hinduism were actually accepted and are poised to become a reality, totally erasing this particular piece of geography in the minds of thousands of children, and by the stroke of a pen, “disappearing” the millions of native peoples who lived there prior to 1300?
Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Dr. Yvette Claire Rosser, also known as Ram Rani is an American writer and scholar. She identifies as a Hindu and teaches Hinduism to Westerners. Her Ph.D. dissertation, “Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh,” is a study of the politics of history in South Asia. She’s currently working on her next book on the politicization of history textbooks in the subcontinent.

Friday, May 13, 2016


Sumita Kale: Don't undermine the strides made by Jan-Dhan

Paucity of information regarding the progress of financial inclusion in India has been a major challenge. The situation is now changing, with data being made available online, says the writer in the f

Sumita Kale 
A glance at recent media headlines on the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) would lead one to think that India's financial inclusion mission is floundering, as a few negative trends that have come out through MicroSave's third round of assessment of the scheme are grabbing all the attention. It is, of course, perfectly rational to stress where the mission is going wrong and where corrections are needed. Yet, in India, and in a mission this size, it is difficult to imagine getting everything right from the very beginning. In fact, there is much to be said about the positive trends that have emerged through the assessments, to get a more balanced picture. More importantly, the assessment of PMJDY should be done within the context of the programme.

To begin with, the PMJDY has dramatically changed the basic framework of financial inclusion in India. For long, progress in inclusion has been measured by the number of no-frills or basic savings bank accounts and the number of branchless outlets in villages. Apart from some occasional surveys by independent agencies, little or no data has been available on the usage of these accounts, dormancy of agents, income earned by agents, etc. One of the biggest challenges for researchers like us in tracking the progress of financial inclusion in India has been the paucity of data at the granular level. So we have the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Annual Report, 2014-15, stating that there are 504,142 branchless banking outlets in villages, with no granular information regarding location details, activity levels, etc. It is not clear, from any publicly available database, whether the 126,000 agents used as Bank Mitras under the Sub-Service Area Scheme for PMJDY form a subset of the aggregate shown in the RBI data, or whether there is some overlap between the two data sets.

Unlike the PMJDY Bank Mitras, whose data are now available on the website, information on non-PMJDY business correspondent (BC) outlets has to be gleaned from State Level Bankers' Committees (SLBC), which have varying standards of reporting and monitoring. Studies conducted in the pre-PMJDY era by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and MicroSave on BC availability (CGAP's "National Survey of Banking Agents, 2013" and "The Curious Case of Missing Agents in Rural India", MicroSave, January 2014) showed that data on agents, as reported by SLBCs, often did not match data from on the ground.

The recommendation from Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion (Policy Brief, November 2015) was for the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the RBI to coordinate towards a harmonised and current database of all BC agents in the country that will provide a clear and full picture of the actual financial inclusion footprint in the country. This recommendation was included by the RBI Committee for the Medium-term Path to Financial Inclusion (January 2016) and the first bi-monthly monetary policy statement for this year has set out the task of a tracking system for BCs: an online registry of all BCs - both existing and new - that will capture basic details, including location of fixed-point BCs, nature of operations, etc, updated on a quarterly basis.

It is often forgotten that the PMJDY is just one part of the overall network set out in the country, a network for which data are still scarce. In this situation, it is heartening to see that the PMJDY Mission Directorate has progressed from monitoring only the number of accounts to tracking a number of indicators such as Aadhaar seeding, provision of RuPay cards, usage of overdraft facility, payment of Bank Mitra remuneration, etc, and transaction readiness of Bank Mitras. There is transparency now. With state- and district-level data available on the PMJDY website and with a geographic information system (GIS) locator available online for banking services, it is much easier for any independent analyst to cross-verify the basic existence of a BC agent.

Though a lot more remains to be monitored - for example, the number of transactions at the agent and account level, connectivity issues at the BC outlet, customer care and grievance redressal - it is important to appreciate this sea change within the DFS and the RBI to start tracking progress indicators at a granular level and beyond the aggregate number of agents and accounts.

The second significant change under the PMJDY is that the financial inclusion objective has moved beyond the provision of simple no-frills accounts to meeting overall financial needs of the poor, linking government benefits, overdraft facility and insurance and pension to these savings accounts.

The massive campaign around PMJDY led to a surge in awareness, and for the first time in decades, bank officials, who would pursue people to open accounts to meet their mandated targets, reported being pushed by customers themselves.

The three rounds of assessment by MicroSave must be seen in this perspective: as a survey that provides for a much richer analysis of course correction where needed for the PMJDY Mission Directorate. The good, the bad and the ugly from the survey results will be taken up in the next piece.

The author is with the Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion;


Dear Shri Narayana Murthy and Shri Rohan Murthy,
We the undersigned would like to convey our deep appreciation for your good intentions and financial commitment to establish the Murty Classical Library of India, a landmark project to translate 500 volumes of traditional Indian literature into English. We appreciate the motives of making our civilization’s great literature available to the modern youth who are educated in English, and who are unfortunately not trained in Indian languages.
However, such a historical project would have to be guided and carried out by a team of scholars who not only have proven mastery in the relevant Indian languages, but are also deeply rooted and steeped in the intellectual traditions of India. They also need to be imbued with a sense of respect and empathy for the greatness of Indian civilization.
We would like to bring to your notice the views of the mentor and Chief Editor of this program, Professor Sheldon Pollock. While Pollock has been a well-known scholar of philology, it is also well-known that he has deep antipathy towards many of the ideals and values cherished and practiced in our civilization. He echoes the views of Macaulay and Max Weber that the shastras generated in India serve no contemporary purpose except for the study of how Indians express themselves. He has forcefully articulated this view in his career, starting with his 1985 paper, “The Theory of Practice and the Practice of Theory in Indian Intellectual History” (Journal of the American Oriental Society). He sees all shastras as flawed because he finds them frozen in Vedic metaphysics, which he considers irrational and a source of social oppression. His paper concluded:
‘The theoretical discourse of sastra becomes in essence a practical discourse of power.’*
Therefore, we are dismayed that Pollock has been appointed the Chief Editor and mentor of the entire program.
In his recent book, “The Battle for Sanskrit", Shri Rajiv Malhotra has articulated that many of the writings of Pollock are deeply flawed and misrepresent our cultural heritage.
Furthermore, Pollock does not claim to be politically neutral.In recent years, Pollock has been a prominent signatory of several statements which are of a purely political nature and devoid of any academic merit; those statements have condemned various policies and actions of the Government of India. He has shown utter indifference and disrespect for democratic values and even the international norms of non-interference in the internal functioning of constitutional representative institutions in other countries.  
In addition, we now find that Pollock is a prominent signatory of two recent statements released by US academicians condemning the actions of the JNU authorities and the Government of India against separatist groups who are calling for the independence of Kashmir, and for India’s breakup.
"काश्मीर की आजादी तक जंग रहेगी, भारत की बरबादी तक जंग रहेगी, भारत तेरे टुकडे होङ्गे, 
इनशा अल्लाह इनशा अल्लाह".
"The fight will continue till Kashmir is freed; The fight will continue till India is destroyed; O India, you are going to get shattered by the will of Allah."
Beside these slogans, the disgruntled youth also went on to condemn the highest court of India by way of hoarding posters and banners describing the action of court as “judicial killing” of a terrorist.  
To add fuel to the fire, Pollock by way of signing petitions has demanded that the Government of India should end its "authoritative menace". However, we do not find him petitioning against his own USA 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.  
We petition you to reconstitute the editorial group of your project with the following ideals in mind: 
  • There must be a fair representation of the lineages and traditional groups that teach and practice the traditions described in the texts being translated. This would ensure that the sentiments and understanding of the millions of Indians who practice these traditions are not violated.
  • The project must be part of the “Make in India” ethos and not outsourced wholesale to American Ivy Leagues. Just as your visionary role in Infosys showed the world that Indians can be the top producers of IT, so also we urge you to champion the development of Swadeshi Indology. This would entail developing an entire ecosystem of India-based research, translations, journals and conferences. These would be run by leading Indian academicians as well as traditional practitioners.
  • There must be a written set of standards and policies for the entire project, pertaining to the translation methodologies, historical assumptions and philosophical interpretations that would be used consistently in all volumes.
For example: 
  • How will certain Sanskrit words that are non-translatable be treated?
  • What will be the posture adopted towards the “Foreign Aryan Theory” and other such controversial theories including chronologies?
  • What will be assumed concerning the links between ancient texts and present-day social and political problems?
  • Will the theoretical methods developed in Europe in the context of the history of ancient Europe, be used to interpret Indian texts, or will there first be open discussions with Indians on the use of Indian systems of interpretations?
We urge you to invite critics of Sheldon Pollock and the approaches being followed in his project, for open and frank discussions. We are convinced that this would lead to a dramatic improvement in your project and also avoid any adverse outcome.
* This replaces an earlier quote used because this is more appropriate.
Scholars and Intellectuals 
  1. Prof. K. Ramasubramanian, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay.
  2. Prof. Ramesh C. Bhardwaj , Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, Delhi University
  3. Dr. Kapil Kapoor , Former Pro Vice Chancellor, JNU, New Delhi.
  4. Dr. Girish Nath Jha, Professor of Computational Linguistics and Chairperson, Special Center for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi. Professor & Concurrent Faculty, Center for Linguistics, School of Language Literature & Culture Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
  5. Prof. V. Kutumba Sastry.
  6. Dr. C. Upender Rao, Professor and Chairperson, Special centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
  7. Prof. Madhu Kishwar, Senior Fellow, CSDS, New Delhi
  8. Prof. R. Vaidyanathan, IIM Bangalore, Finance & Control UTI Chair Professor
  9. Shri N. Gopalaswami, Former Chief Election Commisioner of India, Head of the HRD ministry’s committee on Sanskrit Promotion, Chairman, Kalakshetra, Chennai
  10. Prof. Ramesh Kumar Pandey, Vice Chancellor, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  11. Swami Madhavpriyadas, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanan, Ahmedabad
  12. Dr. K. S. Kannan, Professor, Jain University, Bangalore.
  13. Sri Ramanuja Devanathan , Former Vice Chancellor, Sri Jagadguru Ramananda  Rajasthan Sanskrit University, Jaipur
  14. Prof. Shrinivasa Varakhedi, Professor and Dean, Karnataka Sanskrit University
  15. Prof. K. E. Devanathan, Vice Chancellor, S. V. Vedic University, Tirupati
  16. Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao, Secretary, Madras Music Academy, Chennai.
  17. Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry.
  18. Smt. Meera H. R., Research Scholar, NIAS, Bangalore.
  19. Prof. Shashi Tiwari, General Secretary, Wider Assiciation for Vedic Studies (WAVES).
  20. Dr. Bal Ram Singh, Professor and President, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA., Ex-Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  21. Shri Mitesh Katira, Sanskrit Bharati, Mumbai
  22. Dr. Baldevanand Sagar, Ex. Sanskrit-news-broadcaster,AIR-DD. New Delhi, General Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrit Journalists Association.
  23. Prof. K. S. Sateesha, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  24. Dr. Sudarshan, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  25. Dr. P Ramanujam, CDAC, Bangalore
  26. Dr. K. Mahesh, Post Doctoral Fellow, IIT Bombay
  27. Dr. K. Venkatesha Moorthy, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  28. Dr. Ratnamohan Jha, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  29. Prof. T.P.R Nambudiri, Principal, Madras Sanskrit College
  30. Prof. Viroopaksha Jaddipal, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupathi
  31. Prof. Rajaram Shukla, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  32. Prof. Deviprasad Tripathi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  33. Prof. Hareram Tripathi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  34. Prof. K.P. Paroha, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  35. Prof. MA Lakshmithathachar, Chairman, Centre for literary Research, Indian Institute  of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (IIAIM), Dean, Ramanuja Vishwa Vidyapeetam, Melkote, Karnataka
  36. Prof. MA Alwar, Karnatak Samskrit University, Mysore
  37. Dr. Vinaya Chandra, Research Fellow, Development Foundation, Bangalore
  38. Dr. Anuradha Chaudhury, Research Fellow, Development Foundation, Bangalore
  39. Dr. Arathi V, Director, Vibhu Academy, Bangalore
  40. Dr. Ramachandra G Bhat, Vice Chancellor, SVYASA University
  41. Dr. Tilak M Rao, Assistant Director, Veda Vijnana Shodha Samsthanam
  42. Dr. Mahabaleshwara S Bhat, Principal, Veda Vigyana Gurukulam, Bangalore
  43. Prof. Pramod, Amrita University, Coimbatore
  44. Dr Kameshwari, Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  45. Dr KS Balasubramanian, Deputy Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  46. Dr TV Vasudeva, Deputy Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  47. Dr Sita Sundar Ram, Research Fellow, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  48. Prof Parthasarathy, Hon Professor, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  49. Dr. Sudarshan Chiplunkar, Lecturer, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Mumbai
  50. Dr. Gayatri Muralikrishna, Asst. Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Delhi
  51. Dr. Seetharama, Asst. Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Mumbai
  52. Dr. Sridhara Bhat, Professor, HoD, SDM College Ujire, (Mangaluru University), Karnataka.
  53. Dr. V.Yamuna Devi, Research Assistant, K.S.R.Institute
  54. Dr. V.Premalatha, Research scholar, K.S.R.Institute
  55. Dr. Binod Singh Ajatshatru, Associate Professor of Indian Studies, Peking University (Ex), Director, The BRICS Institute, New Delhi
  56. Dr. J.S.R. Prasad, Professor&Head, Dept. of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad
  57. Dr. Ram Nath Jha, Associate Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies,  JNU, New Delhi
  58. Shri Mahamahopadhyaya Krishnamurthi Sastri, Retd. Principal, Madras Sanskrit College
  59. Shri GSR Krishnamurthy, Registrar, S V Vedic University, Tirupati
  60. Dr. Rajnish Mishra, Associate Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi
  61. Prof. V. N. Jha, Former Director, Center for Advanced Study in Sanskrit, Universit of Pune
  62. Shri Arjunkumar K. Samal, Principal, Darshanam Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanan, Ahmedabad
  63. Shri Basu Ghosh Das, President, ISKCON, Vadodara, Vice chairman, ISKCON India Governing Bureau
  64. Shri Lila Purushottam Das, Principal, Bhaktivedanta Gurukula, Vrindavan, Professor, Department of Electrical Enginneering, IIT Kanpur
  65. Prof. Bharat Gupt, Former Associate Professor, College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University.
  66. Prof. Rudrapatna Shyamasundar, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  67. Prof. Kannan Moudgalya, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  68. Prof. Sivakumar, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  69. Prof. Shripad Garge, Department of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  70. Prof. Arunkumar Sridharan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  71. Prof. Varadraj Bapat, School of Management, IIT Bombay
  72. Prof. Shireesh Kedare, Department of Energy Sciences, IIT Bombay
  73. Prof. Saketh Nath, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  74. Dr. Kuntimaddi Sadananda, Material Scientist, Former Head of Deformation and Fraction section of the US Naval Research Lab, Acharya of Chinmaya Mission, Washington Regional Center.
  75. Prof. Rakesh Mathpal, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Kanpur.
  76. Prof. Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  77. Prof Karthik Raman, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras
  78. Prof. Neeraj Kumbhakarna, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  79. Prof. Ashish Pandey, School of Management, IIT Bombay.
  80. Dr. T. S. Mohan, Director, Pragyan Datalabs, Bangalore
  81. Prof. Devendra Jalihal, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras
  82. Prof. Karmalkar, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras
  83. Prof. Ashwin Gumaste, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay
  84. Dr. Deepika Kothari, Founder Vishuddhi Films
  85. Dr. Ranjan Ghosh, Lecturer, Department of Economics, SLU Uppsala, Sweden
  86. Prof. Balaji Jayaraman, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University
  87. Prof. M. S. Sriram, Dept of Theoretical Physics, Univ. of Madras
  88. Prof. Anil Kumar Gaurishetty, Dept of Physics, IIT Roorkee
  89. Prof. Sanjay Chitnis, CMR Institute of Technology, Bangalore
  90. Prof. K Gopinath, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  91. Prof. Arun Agrahara, Rajeev Institute of Technology, Hassan
  92. Prof. B Mahadevan, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
  93. Prof. TV Prabhakar, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
  94. Dr. Samir Kagalkar, Director, eMBArkers, Fellow of IIM Bangalore
  95. Prof. S. Krishnan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  96. Prof. N. Narayanan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Madras
  97. Prof. Murali Krishna, Dept. of Computer Science & Automation, IISc, Bangalore
  98. Prof. Amartya Kumar Dutta, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta
  99. Prof. M.D. Srinivas, Chairman, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai
  100. Dr. Paresh Joshi, Academic Program coordinator, Junior Science Olympiad, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and also Vice-President (ASIA) of International Junior Science Olympiad.
  101. Dr. Anand Bulusu, Dept. of Electronics and Communication Engineering, IIT Roorkee
  102. Dr. Ram Manohar Singh, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkee
  103. Prof. Makarand Paranjpe, Dept of English, JNU, New Delhi
  104. Prof. S. M. Deshpande, Senior Research Fellow, JNCASR, Bangalore, Former Professor, Department Aerospace Engineering, IISc Bangalore
  105. Prof. Srikanth Vedantam, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras
  106. Prof. Sunil Kumar, Director, Multimedia & Wireless Networks Research Group, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, San Diego State University, CA, USA
  107. Prof. Sachin Shinde, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Kanpur
  108. Shri Abhishek Jalan, Director, Memphis Commerce, New Delhi
  109. Shri Pankaj Saxena, Author, Journalist
  110. Prof. Kunal Mukherjee, Department of Methamatics, IIT Madras
  111. Prof. Himanshu Pota, School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales, Australia
  112. Dr. Raghbendra Jha, Professor and Head, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University
  113. Prof. Krithivasan Ramamritham, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Head CUSE, IIT Bombay
  114. Prof. Prasanna Gandhi, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  115. Dr. Nagesh Bhandari, President, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  116. Dr. Rakesh Bhandari, Director, Indus Institute of Special Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  117. Shri. Shankar Sharan, Associate Professor, NCERT
  118. Prof. Shekhar Babu, Amrita School of Business, Amrita University, Bangalore
  119. Prof. Sudharshan, Amrita University, Bangalore
  120. Dr. Bharati Karnik, Professor, Dept. of English, M.L.B. Govt. College of Excellence, Gwalior
  121. Dr. Amresh Shrivastava, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Western University, Canada
  122. Dr. S. B. Sharma, Executive President, Indus University, Ahmedabad, Former Deputy Director, Antenna Systems Area, ISRO
  123. Shri G. Anil Kumar, Writer, Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Karmaveera
  124. Mohan Yellishetty, Senior Lecturer (Mining & Resource Engineering), Monash University
  125. Umesh Sharma, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University
  126. Harpreet Kandra, Faculty of Science and Technology, Federation University and School of Engineering and Information Technology, Monash University
  127. Jagbir Singh, Former Professor and Head, Department of Punjabi, University of Delhi. Life Fellow, Punjabi University, Patiala
  128. Prof. Amarjiva Lochan, Associate Professor, Department of History Shivaji College, University of Delhi
  129. Prof. Ritendra Sharma, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  130. Prof. Harshit Jain, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  131. Prof. SG Rakesh, Amrita University, Bangalore
  132. Shri CSR Prabhu, Former Director General of NIC,Govt of India

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy and Mr. Rohan Narayan Murty

Prof. Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay started this petition with a single signature, and now has 17,997 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.


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