Monday, June 02, 2014

Sanghi Scissorhands: coming soon to a publishing house close to you

Anita Joseph in The Hindu on the latest casualty of Sanghi censorship

The pre-release assessment was ordered after SBAS convener Dinanath Batra served a notice on Orient Blackswan

Another case filed by the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (SBAS) against a textbook published a decade ago has resulted in Orient Blackswan (OBS) — a publisher specialising in academic books — undertaking a pre-release assessment of books that might attract similar reaction.
One such book, Megha Kumar’s Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad since 1969, was withheld from release after it was put on sale. The publishers had announced the book on their website under the segment “New Books and Events” in March along with several other books which continue to be available.
As per a communication sent by OBS to Ms. Kumar, a Rhodes scholar from Oxford University, the board of directors was advised by its legal counsel to undertake a pre-release assessment of books that could run foul of the law. She was also informed that her book would not be released until a “comprehensive assessment has been made and advice obtained.”
Citing concern for the security of authors, staff and their families, OBS said the assessment would include examining the possibility of legal proceedings, especially under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), being filed against them and the company. Explaining OBS position, Mimi Choudhury told The Hinduthat in light of the notice, several books including published works, have been sent for review.
The pre-release assessment was ordered after SBAS convener Dinanath Batra served a notice on OBS for the textbook, Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Written by Sekhar Bandopadhyay, a history professor at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, the book, according to an article in the RSS mouthpiece Organiser, spread canards against the Sangh.
Waltraud Ernst, one of the four editors of the series ‘Critical Thinking in South Asian History’, under which Ms. Kumar’s book was published, wrote to the publisher: “I find it very difficult indeed to fathom the severity of what is going on here in regard to what seems to me to be politically motivated interference with academic freedom. I would be most grateful for reassurance that all this has been a mistake.”
When contacted, Prof. Ernst, an adjunct professor at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, and Prof. Bandyopadhy, who is also a series editor, told The Hindu that under the circumstances it was understandable why the publishers resorted to such action. “What is to be done when the IPC becomes relevant to the way professional history is written?’’ said Prof. Ernst.
Earlier, Penguin India had withdrawn American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, from India as part of an out-of-court settlement with SBAS. And, Aleph Book Company decided to reprint her book, On Hinduism, only after objections raised by SBAS were examined by lawyers, independent writers and scholars.
In both cases, the British-vintage 295-A of the IPC was invoked by SBAS.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

'The universe is then one, infinite, immobile.... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable, and consequently immobile.'
 Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)

For more on Bruno, see Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. Quite a bit of the book can be found at Googlebooks.

Also see Frances Yates, 'The Religious Policy of Giordano Bruno', [ ]

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Show your support for a Free and Open Internet

    Some world governments want to increase censorship and regulate the internet. The decisions will be taken in a closed door meeting. Join together and keep the Internet free from government regulated censorship. Visit this link for more info.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Prajapati Obscenity Trial (Supreme Court Verdict)

Lady Chatterley's Lover in Japan

This is the judgement on the case of translation and publication of LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER in Japan. In 1950, the editor Kyujiro Koyama and the translator Sei Ito were accused of obscenity for the translation, publication and distribution of this novel. The prosecutor insisted that twelve passages in the book were obscene to the general public and therefore its public viewing constituted a crime under Article 175 of the Penal Code. On the other hand, the accused maintained that the interpretation of the Penal Code given by the prosecutor was flawed and unconstitutional. After a series of disputes at the Tokyo High Court, the case was finally taken to the Supreme Court in 1957. On 13 March of that year, the Supreme Court rejected any appeals made by the accused and backed the accusations made by the prosecution that the twelve passages at issue infected the whole book with obscenity arguing that "the description of the sex acts contained therein at twelve passages, as pointed out by the prosecutor, is all too bold, detailed, and realistic"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book on War-crime likely to be banned in Pakistan

The book "A Stranger in my own Country East Pakistan, 1969-1971" written by Late Major General Khadim Hussain Raja and published by OUP, Pakistan has caused an uproar in the Pakistan government. The book has reportedly brought to light the war-crimes and genocides performed by the Pakistan army under the command of General A.A.K Niazi during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
The book was published according to the last wishes of the author expressed to his family as he feared that publication of the book during his lifetime may put his life at risk.
Reports indicate that Pakistan government is trying everything it can to ban the book in the country. The book hasn't made its way into Indian markets yet and doesn't looks like it will.
I don't know whether we will get to see another government "sponsored" book-burning in this 21st century but we should try to get hold of a copy, if possible, before the last wishes of the author gets wiped out from the face of the earth.
Useful link:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Obama "Joker" Poster

Firas Alkhateeb, an American citizen of Palestinian origin designed and uploaded the Obama "joker" poster on Flickr in January 2009. Described by 'The Guardian' as "America's first successful use of street art", the poster has been a symbol for anti-Obama protests. Following media coverage, Flickr deleted all the available digital posters and the forums discussing it. This action was met by severe backlash which caused Flickr to change their Copyright Infringement Policy. As a result of Flickr removing the image, some online communities viewed Alkhateeb as the most visible representative of free speech on the internet in August 2009.
Details of the poster controversy are available at