13th February 2014
Rajiv Malhotra’s well-documented tendency towards aggression (including by Martha Nussbaum)
Rajiv is clearly a very aggressive opponent of liberty and anything that he might not agree with. Well within the mould of the Hindutva fanatics to which he clearly belongs.
"Alex" wrote on my blog:
Rajivji is a full-blown right-wing Hindutva apologist, racist and and proto-fascist. It is useless to engage with him at all. A quick review of his writings revealed a lot about his thinking and attitudes—which do not look good. He has long been an opponent of criticism of religion, and his attitude is nothing new.
I was willing to engage with Rajiv after the comment he wrote on the blog. And I was even willing to apologise if I was wrong. But Rajiv balked at opposing the withdrawal of Doniger's book by Penguin.
Regardless of whether he DIRECTLY lodged the case or not, he can be said to be a keen supporter.
I'm not saying whether Rajiv's arguments are right or wrong. He may well be right in his critique of Doniger's work. My objection is to his subversion of free speech and liberty.
Prof. Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, wrote about him thus, in her 2007 book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future:
The chief antagonist behind these attacks is Rajiv Malhotra, a very wealthy man who lives in New Jersey and heads the Inﬁnity Foundation, which has made grants in the area of Hinduism studies. Had Malhotra decided to focus his energies on giving scholarships to students and graduate students in this area, he would greatly have enhanced the proﬁle of Hinduism studies nationally. But in recent years most of his energy has been focused on Internet attacks against Doniger and scholars associated with her, on his website sulekha.com. Malhotra’s voluminous writings show a highly aggressive, threatening personality. His attacks are sarcastic and intemperate. He shows little concern about factual accuracy. Typically he makes no attempt to describe the book or books he attacks in a complete or balanced way; instead, his broadsides are lists of alleged mistakes or distortions, conveying little or no sense of what the book is about and what it argues. Malhotra also has associates, some both more able and more temperate than he (Vishal Agarwal is one of these). But all pursue a common enterprise: the discrediting of American scholars of Hinduism as sex-crazed defamers of sacred traditions. (248)
Wendy Doniger has pointed out the increasing tendency to stop discussion of alternative scholarly views about Hinduism:
Ms. Doniger wrote: "Right-wing Hindu groups, in India and the diaspora, have increasingly asserted their wish, indeed their right, to control scholarship about Hinduism." [Source]
"Doniger blames the Internet campaigns. "Malhotra's ignorant writings have stirred up more passionate emotions in Internet subscribers who know even less than Malhotra does, who do not read books at all," Doniger wrote in an e-mail. "And these people have reacted with violence. I therefore hold him indirectly responsible." [Source]http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2010-December/202829.html
Malhotra suffers from a view that Hinduism can ONLY be examined by Hindus. According to him:
…there is a lack of Indic perspective that would…provide equivalent counter balance to Western scholar’s theories, creating an asymmetric discourse. Further, he says, most of the Hinduism scholars are either whites or Indians under the control of whites. One does not find Arabs, Chinese, blacks, Hispanics, etc., engaged in this kind of Hindu phobia racket. [Source]
But as Asim Rafiqui says:
That being said, a whole host of eminent Indian historians and scholars have produced original research and collaborated, informed, influenced and enlightened the American academy the names of Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar, Ahmad Aziz, D.N. Jha come to mind. And they have done so not as a result of their ‘insider’ position, but as highly qualified, rigorously scientific and openly curious individuals. But they too have been attacked, though this time by the Hindutva and other Hindu nationalists. Professor Thapar, D.N. Jha and others have been abused, threatened and in some even have been assaulted Professor Laine, author of Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, became the target of Maharashtran bigots and his Indian research collaborators and departments where he conducted research were physically attacked by goons. [Source]
Here are some findings of Selma:
I did a bit of checking on Malhotra and it turns out every article of his is about how the West and Abrahamic religions are harmful to the world and intolerant as opposed to Hinduism. Then I read what others have to say about this so-called inter-faith guru. And here is something very interesting. A frontline article called Non-resident nationalism speaks of Hindus based in America who support far right activities, the Hindutva ideology of supremacy and the insidous ways they operate to spread their message.
This information adds to my belief that Malhotra was involved in forcing Penguin to withdraw Doniger's book (he could have answered the questions I raised, particularly about the sources of his EARLY information about the case, and his gloating/ defending the book-destruction decision to Anuj – but he chose not to).
But Malhotra's style is consistent with actions by VHP/BJP and Hindutva brigade to SHUT DOWN opposing views. [VHP’s destruction of paintings in Ahmedabad, Modi’s banning a book on Gandhi].
Not much to distinguish them from Islamic fanatics or Taliban.
We must create an India where there is ABSOLUTE freedom of expression