L’Affair Ramanujan: OUP & c;

in univerCity

Some more important readings for you in terms of the DU/Ramanujan.

– Shahid Amin (Professor, History, Delhi University), When a Department Let a University Down, The Hindu, Nov. 3, 2011

At the first sign of trouble, in a letter written in September 2008, OUP decided to thank those who felt aggrieved by it, “for pointing … out … that the essay has the potential of hurting religious sentiments.” It went on to add “that neither are we selling the book nor there are any plans to reissue it.” This was a corporate’s way of being economical with the truth, for the apology left unsaid that the offending article was also a part of another OUP-published volume, the Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan, and whether that academic bestseller was being trashed forever as well. That was not the end of the story. The Press also served a veritable notice on DU’s History Department for infringing its copyright (and in effect profiting) by including the Ramanujan article in a book of readings! There was no such book, and no intent, only a bunch of photocopies including that essay in a campus photocopy shop, and stories planted in the press about it. The publishing house was being simultaneously both supine and assertive.

– Ananya Vajpeyi (Resident Intellectual, Delhi), Old tale, Modern Hate: The Ramayan returns to haunt Indian Polity, Nov. 3, 2011

Towards the end of the 20th century, India returned once more to the Ramayan. In the late 1980s the epic was serialized and broadcast, bringing the cable television revolution to India. A resurgent Hindu Right demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, claiming it stood on the hallowed ground where Ram himself had been born on earth. A constitutional crisis, widespread violence between Hindus and Muslims, legal battles in India’s courts on the authenticity and historicity of competing religious beliefs and claims, and the attenuation of minority rights in secular India followed throughout the mid-1990s.

On the back of its virulent Ramjanmabhoomi movement (a campaign based on the idea of recapturing the so-called “birthplace” of Ram from Muslim control), the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power and led the national government until the general elections of 2004.

– Rukun Advani (Publisher, Permanent Black), Narrow View at the Top: Ramanujan, a publisher’s perspective, The Telegraph, Nov. 7, 2011.

A history department prescribes it. A hurt Hindu, his sentiments backed up by the sort of antagonism to ideas in which only cretinous Indian vice-chancellors specialize, takes the publisher to court. And what does the publisher do? Instead of preparing for a siege and sticking his Oxford Blue banner into the battleground, the publisher grovels. He agrees that what he has published can cause religious offence, and that by publishing Ramanujan he has caused it. He promises in court that he will renounce Ramanujan and not reprint the offensive essay.

Do read!

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