02/12/2014, 00.00
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India, book on Hinduism withdrawn after fundamentalist pressure

by Nirmala Carvalho
The book "The Hindus: An Alternative History" written U.S. scholar on Indian history and culture Wendy Doniger in 2009. According to Hindu nationalist groups inside and outside the country, the volume is "offensive". For the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC ) " the increasing power of extremist groups is disturbing".

Mumbai (AsiaNews ) - "A sign of the growing power of the Hindu fundamentalist fringe". That's how Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) comments to AsiaNews on the decision of Penguin India to withdraw the book The Hindus: An Alternative History, written in 2009 by Wendy Doniger, an American expert on India and Professor of History of religions at the University of Chicago. The arrangement is the result of a private agreement between the publisher and the Shiksha Bachao Andolan , a Hindu nationalist organization that claims the volume (and its author) "offend" Hindus.

Since its publication, the book has sparked heated debate among Hindu nationalist groups, inside and outside of India. In particular, these associations criticize the emphasis on sexuality posed by the Professor in her interpretation of the epic Ramayana (considered one of the sacred texts of Hinduism, ed.) In 2011, Dina Nath Batra , head of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan , began proceedings to sue the Professor and the Penguin Group USA - of which Penguin India was part - claiming that the book infringed Article . 295A of the Indian Penal Code in so far as it "violates the religious sentiments of millions of Hindus".

Wendy Doniger criticized the Penguin India decision stating "They were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece - the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book".

"Although it is not a case of government imposed censorship - said Sajan George - it is disturbing that a publisher decides to withdraw a book just because of the pressure of these fundamentalists. What happened reveals strong tactics of extremist groups, and the vulnerability of others against such attitudes".


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