And a little child shall lead them

Nilanjana Bhowmick at the Time website explains why Dinanath Batra has bullied Penguin into recalling and destroying Doniger’s book.

First of all, she makes a factual claim that I hadn’t seen before.

Penguin Books India has agreed to recall and pulp all copies in India of The Hindus: An Alternative History by U.S. scholar Wendy Doniger, raising concerns over freedom of expression in the world’s largest democracy.

Only in India? I thought it was all copies, period.

The move by one of India’s major book publishers is a settlement with members of the Hindu group Shiksha Bachao Andolan, which has filed civil and criminal cases over the work.

In a conversation with TIME, Shiksha Bachao Andolan president Dinanath Batra explains why he thinks Doniger’s book hurts Hindu sentiments and is propagating lies about Hindu deities and national icons. No stranger to controversy, Batra had earlier taken on Indian educational boards for what he says have been distortion of facts and has actively opposed and subsequently stopped the introduction of sex education in Indian schools, saying it was against Hindu culture and religion.

In other words he’s an experienced religious bully.

TIME: What are your objections to Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus?

Batra: Her intention is bad, the content is anti-national and the language is abusive. Her agenda is to malign Hinduism and hurt the feelings of Hindus.

Sigh. Is he six? He sounds as if he’s six.

Why does it matter so much to you about what someone writes about Hinduism?

If someone makes a cartoon of the prophet Mohammad,  Muslims are outraged around the world. So why should anyone write anything against Hinduism and get away with it? It matters because this book is hurting the sentiments of Hindus all over the world. I am a Hindu. When I read the book, I felt hurt. It hurt my sentiments.

I guess he is six. It’s funny that a child of six is running this organization that people pay attention to, and being interviewed by Time.

Will you protest against every book that doesn’t fit your idea of Hinduism?

We are against anything that hurts people’s religious sentiments. Our movement is aimed at cleansing distortions from education in India. We have also taken on the Indian educational boards for wrong facts in their textbooks. We will protest against any book that portrays a negative image of our society.

We think everyone is six. We speak for all the people who are six.

Don’t you worry that your objections might seem outdated in today’s modern world?

We are not against modernity, but we are against westernization.

By “westernization” he means “being older than six.”


  1. noastronomer says

    “Muslims are outraged around the world. So why should anyone write anything against Hinduism and get away with it?”

    Which is exactly why Channel 4 blocking out Mo was a bad idea.


  2. iknklast says

    It was only a matter of time. This worked for the Muslims, so the Hindus decided to give it a shot. What next, the Zoroastrians? You can’t insult Zoroaster, or we’ll get you? Advocates of Thor will require the pulping of any book that says something about Thor they don’t like?

  3. says

    There was a time when Penguin Books would not have surrendered so easily to such bullying. In 1959, at the time of the “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” trial virtually every religious organisation in the UK objected to its publication, some very vociferously. I get the impression that today Penguin Books would say “Sorry to have offended you all” and would then pulp the lot.

  4. quixote says

    When I read the book, I felt hurt.”

    There’s his problem, right there. Don’t read the book. No more hurt. See? Simple.

    I actually have a lot of sympathy for people who want to stop being offended. I’d like it, for instance, if I didn’t have to have ads shoved in my face every minute of every day showing that women are sexxaay! serving platters for selling soap, phones, and beer. I’d really, really, really welcome a law that said you had to open a specific magazine or web site to see that crap. Then I could not open it.

    What? I can dream, can’t I?

  5. Bjarte Foshaug says

    If someone makes a cartoon of the prophet Mohammad, Muslims are outraged around the world. So why should anyone write anything against Hinduism and get away with it?

    This is what we are asking for by giving legitimacy to illegitimate demands.


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