Thoughts on economics and liberty

Rajiv Malhotra’s further abuse and my expectations from him

Rajiv Malhotra, instead of addressing the issue of his strong support (even if not direct involvement – although I entirely reserve my judgement on this matter till Rajiv responds the the questions I have raised) for the destruction of books, issued a further round of abuse – this time on his twitter account:

[Image uploaded for the record, below: click for larger version]

Rajiv doesn't understand that I have a VERY thick skin. You can abuse me all you like (except if you are part of the team with which I work to help change India) and it won't even register on my consciousness. I'm used to not just ordinary abuse but to death threats from BJP-VHP-Hindutva types who have flooded the internet and are determined to destroy India (some of these people I've reported to the police). I'm even less impressed by you now given you continue to support the destruction of books but want to escape responsibility by abusing me. Doesn't help India or Hinduism, I'm sorry. 

Anyway, Rajiv further contacted me over email today, so I've laid out my expectations of him. Since this is a public discussion about a crucial policy issue, I'm placing my expectations of Rajiv in public, below:

Dear Rajiv

After Doniger's wrote to me that you may not be involved in the destruction of her book, I am obliged to give you the benefit of doubt. Last night I removed my two initial posts despite significant doubt in my mind, based on the facts of the case. 2+2 is rarely not 4.

No person committed to free speech would have acted as you did on Twitter. Btw, Tweets are not third party' transaction. Twitter is a tool of public speech and conclusive evidence in many things.

I fully understand that my initial strong language offended you. Yes, I do get very offended by rich and powerful people who want to demolish free speech. Only I am to blame for this weakness of my approach, which allowed you to evade the substantive issues of this matter and take the high moral ground.

At this stage, since you are still communicating after your initial flare up, walking the talk is key. You can help me by publicly condemning everyone involved in forcing the pulping of Doniger's book, including Atalanta group and the relevant Indians (Batra et al). Write to Doniger supporting her right to mislead the world about Hinduism (if that's what you think she is doing).

Voltaire said he'd disagree with someone but defend to death their right to say what they wished. You should take that approach. Such an approach would have attracted me to you, to your work, and I would have been open to reading and considering your arguments.

It is critical that we allow civilised discourse to occur even on matters we totally disagree with. Pulping books is the very antithesis of civilisation. We are not fit to be called Hindus if we start destroying books.

I have honed down to a few sections of IPC as the key culprit (s.295A). These sections, very ill-drafted and vague, hit at the very basics of freedom of speech in India and give all kinds of fools and fundamentalists the opportunity to harass authors. If you are serious about liberty, please join me in studying/researching/condemning/ changing these sections, and demanding absolute free speech in India, including the 'un-banning' of all books and pieces of art.

I will now shift my focus to these offending sections in IPC. I am not interested in blaming Penguin, who are merely at the receiving end of bullying by BJP/VHP/Muslim fanatics AND the Indian state.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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