Sheldon Pollock: Shows his true color! Anti-India politician in the garb of a scholar!

By: Name withheld

Sheldon Pollock ultimately opens his mind. In his talk (HERE) the camouflage of the facade of a ‘scholar on things Indian’ is blown off. His scholarship ranging from Sanskrit, colonialism of this ancient language, Hitler’s inspiration to assert superiority and conquer the world originating in India and her ancient history to current Indian politics, national ruling dispensation in this country, Rashtriya Swam Sewak Sangh and all the political stuff of current India is exhibited in true anti-India color! Let us make him speak in his own words. What he says is this:

  1. A petition was signed by more than 5000 persons of good repute (if one hates to call them persons of eminence) at change.org demanding Pollock’s removal from Murty Classical Library. Just please go through this petition and find out yourself how far Sheldon Pollock is justified in his following outbursts! Quote, “What is it in contemporary India that could produce such an ignorant, hostile document?…. I’m intrigued and worried about the cultural and psychological sources of the anger and shame that are evident in that document. ….There is the shame of, “Oh, here’s this guy talking about power, domination, inequality, and hierarchy, and we don’t want to talk about that, we want to just talk about flying saucers in the Vedas and ancient plastic surgery, but here comes along this mean Orientalist.”  Dear Sheldon Pollock, you are dishonest here in saying that you alone are talking about power, domination, inequality, and hierarchy, and Indians – who signed the petition – don’t want to talk about that! Please be honest, many eminent Indians are talking about what you are saying, Indian Constitution (article 14, 16, 21) is taking about; Indian courts are busy talking about it; Indian politics (political parties rooted in so-called Dalits interests) is talking about it. You are not alone in your perceived crusade.  There are eminent persons who are more concerned and honest than you about these issues and the issues of underlying real motives of people like you – and one among them is Rajiv Malhotra who has devoted a complete book on you. You can’t say you are ignorant of that. Whatever – power or other things – you are talking, Indians are also talking! Never say, Indians don’t want to talk!
  2. You say, “…. more telling point is that the nature of humanities education in India today is disastrously mediocre…..  But I think the events at JNU, Central University of Hyderabad, the Film School in Pune, Jadavpur…across the board there have been the beginnings of a powerful student movement. And I think if it’s not crushed, and if it is sustained, there’s a potential here for something very innovative…. I hope the agitations and slogans are sustained until the universities are seriously reformed so that critical thinking becomes a central part of education.” So, Pollock, you find the solution to the “mediocrity of Humanities education” in India in the students agitations like in JNU, Central University in Hydrabad and Jadavpur! Beautiful! A question to you: Don’t you find the similarity between the Blacks agitations in the US and these students? And, don’t you know that in the US the white cops just shoot a Black who was in the process of taking out his identity document from his pocket and in India we have reservations – more than equality – and cops never ever shoot a person just because he happens to be a Dalit (of which you are hinting in your JNU, Hydrabad and Jadhavpur student agitations)? Or, are you suffering from a ‘white superiority complex’ in alleging things of which you yourself are guilty?
  3. You say, “I would like to see a history book that teaches the struggles over history, one that might begin the section on Mughal history with a statement from the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, National Volunteer Organization] demanding that 300 years of Indian history be erased from the textbook and give their reasons for doing so …. But you know, India is now a state run by the RSS. How do you deal with that? It’s a very worrisome situation. The kind of expressions of rage and delusion that one finds almost every day in India is a result of the space that’s been opened up by the RSS coup. It allows people to say things that they never would have said 20 years ago. It’s sort of like the Trumpian revolution. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Sangh are drilling every day with khaki shorts and saffron flags. This is no joke. The textbooks are just a front in the culture wars that are taking place.” So, dear Pollock, your wisdom to assert that Indian Humanities education is mediocre comes out of your this grudge! And, you want to see that improved in this light! Dear one, where did you find the Rashtriya Sewk Sangh to demand that 300 years of Mughal history be erased? Any statement, any article, any resolution! Do you think Indians are duffer to visualize that a period of history can ever be erased? By whatever means – omitting text book reference whatever. There are historical monuments, places, events that cannot be erased. And nobody has ever demanded to erase them. Of course, in history suppressed facts can be put in their right place. And there is nothing wrong with it. You have rightly said, “…. history is an ongoing struggle and it’s very important that people understand that history is always written from the interests of the present moment and all of us are going to do so from a very interested and partial perspective.” Dear one, your anti-India color is just like the day-light. You have venom for India – India that has ever been harmless to other people and is still so.
  4. You say, “Issues of gender, exclusion, and silencing-— every culture evinces those, ….. Objectivity remains a non-negotiable value in scholarship, but objectivity does not entail neutrality, as Thomas Haskell said 20 years ago. We want to produce scholarship that is honest, and is as fair to the evidence as it can possibly be. ….You must be as objective as possible, but that does not mean that you have to celebrate structures of domination. You can critique it, you can take sides. Neutrality is not a requirement, nor is advocacy not a legitimate and important academic value.” Dear friend, “Issues of gender, exclusion and silencing” are present everywhere in the world, including India, and of course, in your own country the US, which tops the world in women’s rape! India too is struggling to remove gender discrimination etc. and is making satisfactory progress. See, how many women get elected in India to local self governing bodies, like Panchayat etc.!  This is no reason for you to blame the present political dispensation. Or, RSS, for that matter!
  5. You say, “When I write about forms of exclusion and silencing in Sanskrit tradition, I feel that I can state clearly and plainly that those forms of domination have had very deleterious effects in the long history of Indian culture. I feel that the evidence and the data permit me to make that sort of argument. It is part of one’s obligation, as a global citizen to participate in an oppositional way when one sees oppression. In scholarship one may or may not feel a similar reaction to historical structures of oppression and domination, but the key thing is that if you deal with such materials you must adhere as closely as possible to the highest standards of scholarship. That doesn’t mean that you have to remain neutral in analyzing the construction of inequality.” Dear learned friend, would you permit me to re-quote this statement in reply to your grievance about “exclusion and silencing” but with this little modification that the words “Sanskrit” and “India” are replaced with the words “English” and “Anglo-American”? Let us see, then, how your statement looks! Here I go: “When I write about forms of exclusion and silencing in English tradition, I feel that I can state clearly and plainly that those forms of domination have had very deleterious effects in the long history of Anglo-American culture”. You are wise enough to sense that in the matter of truth, you are beaten by your own argument and by this little substitution you are made to stand where you belong – you are exposed as a racist person with an imperialist intentions under the pretensions of being a scholar! However, the matter (your quote with this suitable substitution) does not end here. But before that, let us deal with this part of your quote. Would you deny, dear Pollock, that your language – English – has the tradition lasting at least 200 years to exclude and silence almost all other languages of our world and as well the knowledge contained in those languages? Would you deny that this 200 years-long tradition of English had the very deleterious effect in the Anglo-American culture? Do you admit this truth, dear Sheldon Pollock? Do you know that I am made to reply in English to your grievances and objections about “Sanskrit” and “India” and you are not forced to put your thoughts in “Hindi”, the language in which this “India” converses today.  Is it not proof enough to establish the “exclusion and silencing” traditions of your language? Please, ponder over why it is so. It is because English has led the world in the last 200 years in enunciating the knowledge. And, please do not stop here, in your thoughts – Sanskrit too for thousands of years had led the world in enunciating the knowledge. As a scholar you must be knowing that in yesteryear Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Japan, Afghanistan, Iran of today had something to do with “Sanskrit” and knowledge contained therein – of which some remnants (like Asia out of Sanskrit’s “Ashwa” and royal nomenclatures like Bhoomibal Atulya Tej, Narottam Singh Nukh, Arya Mihir,  etc) still linger on!
  6. Now I go further in quoting your statement and request you to allow me to use your argument in support of my case: “I (and here I means not you but me, dear Pollock) feel that the evidence and the data permit me to make that sort of argument. It is part of one’s obligation, as a global citizen to participate in an oppositional way when one sees oppression. In scholarship one may or may not feel a similar reaction to historical structures of oppression and domination, but the key thing is that if you deal with such materials you must adhere as closely as possible to the highest standards of scholarship. That doesn’t mean that you have to remain neutral in analyzing the construction of inequality.” Yes, dear, there is data and evidence to apply the logic that is hurled against Sanskrit, against English as well; and it is our “obligation” too as a global citizen to participate in an oppositional way, when we see oppression – not only linguistic but cultural as well but the other way round – oppression of Anglo-American language and culture of which you are the chief proponent today. We must adhere to the highest standards of scholarship – and that means adherence to the TRUTH, even if it is against oneself!

 

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