Subramanian Swamy And His Harvard Enemies ?

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    Swamy And His Harvard Enemies: The Real Story (Part 1)


    An anti-Hindu clique used an unwieldy administrative mechanism to cancel Subramanian Swamy’s courses, making a mockery of academic freedom. The result has been a fierce backlash.


    Georges Clemenceau (1841 – 1929), prime minister of France during World War I once said: “War is too important a matter to be left to the generals.” This wisdom can now be applied to those calling themselves by names like Indologist, India Studies Expert, South Asia Expert (the latest fashion) and so forth. Thanks to their ham-handed expulsion of the economist and visiting professor Dr Subramanian Swamy, Harvard now has a major public relations problem on its hands.

    To understand the nature of Harvard’s public relations problem, it helps to recognize that Harvard has a dual personality: it is a university that is also a business. Harvard University is part of the Harvard Corporation which answers to its board. (Actually it has two boards, of fellows and of overseers—don’t ask me why.) It is the richest university in the world with assets (called endowment) valued at $32 billion (over one lakh sixty thousand crore rupees in today’s values). Its assets are managed by the Harvard Management Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard.

    In 2007, its assets stood at $36 billion. During the global economic downturn Harvard endowment lost 22 percent of its value or eight billion dollars. It has recovered somewhat in the past two years and is now valued at $32 billion, better but still well short of what it was five years ago. To grow, Harvard needs money from two sources— income from its assets and contributions from its ‘customers’. The latter may now take a hit thanks to the controversy and the backlash following the cancellation of Subramanian Swamy’s courses.

    Like any successful business Harvard treats customer loyalty as its most valuable asset; it takes extraordinary care to cultivate and nurture good relations. Its customers are its alumni. They donate generously and also send their children to Harvard. Increasingly, Harvard is drawing its students—and donations—from the wealthy Indian-American community and in recent years from businesses and professionals in India. In the past year alone, individuals from major Indian business houses like Infosys and Mahindras (to name just a couple) have given tens of millions of dollars to Harvard.

    Hubris results in backlash

    The last thing that Harvard needs at this juncture, as it is just recovering from the fallout of the financial crisis is a public relations disaster of this nature. A question that needs to be answered is— how could Harvard, whose public relations skills are second to none, allow itself to be blindsided by an avalanche of this magnitude? The only answer I can think of is hubris—it took the goodwill and loyalty of an important segment its ‘customers’— the Indian alumni and students—for granted and failed to respond adequately to their complaints over the shrill anti-Hindu and anti-Indian rhetoric and propaganda of some of its faculty. The worst offenders were Indologist Michael Witzel and a few of his associates.

    The dismissal of Subramanian Swamy was the last straw. He is regarded as a hero by a large number of Indians because of his uncompromising stand against terrorism and his crusade against corruption. Judged by Witzel’s record over the past several years, going back to his unseemly involvement in the California school curriculum controversy— and the anti-Hindu rants of his hate group IER (Indo-Eurasian Research), it was a disaster waiting to happen. I had brought his unsavory activities to the attention of Harvard administration more than once, but they had always advised me that however disagreeable it may be, Witzel’s (and other’s) views were protected by academic freedom. (This was before Dr Faust took over as president.)

    All this was public knowledge, and I was not the only one to object. Now for Harvard to dismiss Subramanian Swamy at the instigation of people like Witzel and his departmental colleague Diana Eck looks like hypocrisy of the first order. It is not only Indians that are outraged by this decision: academics and free thinkers who have nothing to with India or Hinduism have expressed their outrage. This is made worse by the fact that other institutions like Yale have also buckled under Islamist pressure. Last summer (2011), Yale expelled Dr Charles Small (of the Yale Initiative for the Inter-disciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism), because he held a conference in which Islamic anti-Semitism and Islamic terrorism were discussed. The following excerpt from a blog by a non-Indian (Pamela Geller) gives an idea.


    Diana Eck

    “In response to the triple bombing in Mumbai on July 13, 2011 that left 26 people dead, Former Indian Law Minister Dr. Subramanian Swamy published an op-ed in a mainstream Indian daily called ‘How To Wipe Out Islamic Terror’. Dr. Swamy is not much loved by the current Indian government as it was through his anti-corruption campaigning efforts that the previous Telecoms Minister ended up in jail on corruption charges, and he is actively pursuing other high ranking members of the government on similar charges.

    “The article was unquestionably provocative, but what it provoked was debate — a good thing for any democracy, especially on a difficult topic. However, it seems, it was too much free speech for Harvard University. For years Dr. Swamy, a Harvard Ph.D. and former Commerce and Industry Minister of India, has taught summer courses in economics at Harvard. This year, in an unprecedented move, his courses were taken away based on the article.”

    The author of the article went on to point out that the Harvard Crimson justified the move by saying, in part, “there is the further concern that his publications may incite religious violence.” Religious violence where? On the Harvard campus? There were no incidents of ‘religious violence’ in India following the publication of Dr. Swamy’s article. The Harvard Crimson seems to have a low opinion of the intelligence and maturity of its readers, of Harvard students and faculty in particular.

    Unwieldy administration, disgruntled faculty

    It is understandable that Harvard President Drew Faust should have caught of much of the flak in this avoidable backlash. Actually, she seems to have been a victim of circumstances beyond her control: a combination of circumstances allowed a disgruntled faculty in its shrinking Sanskrit and India Studies program to take advantage of an unwieldy administrative mechanism. I will look at the former in some detail later, but a brief observation on the latter as seen by a U.S. academic (and administrator) with several decades of experience may be in order. (A phone call to the President’s office at Harvard elicited the response that she, the President had nothing to do with the cancellation.) Here is how the cancellation of Swamy’s courses seems to have come about.

    The procedure at Harvard requires that the whole faculty of the college in question vote on the courses and instructors for each term, in this case the college of arts and sciences on the summer courses to be offered in 2012. Swamy’s economics courses were voted down at the instigation of Diana Eck, a religious studies professor who heads something called the ‘pluralism project’. As we shall see later Eck invoked reasons which made faculty competence irrelevant and steamrolled over the wishes of the economics department chair.

    This strikes one as an unwieldy and inefficient procedure. Things were quite different in colleges where I taught. Once the department in question gets its budget approved by the college, the department chair, assisted by a departmental committee decides on the courses and assigns instructors. After all they have the competence. One cannot have the absurd situation—as happened at Harvard—of a theologian exercising veto power over science and mathematics courses! (One of the courses cancelled was ‘Quantitative Methods in Economics’.) The last time anything like it happened was in Italy 500 years ago when Galileo was forbidden to teach astronomy by the Church.

    Actually there is more to this bizarre episode than meets the eye. Diana Eck was sending a political message to President Drew Faust no less! Eck gave the game away when she haughtily told the faculty why Swamy’s courses should be cancelled. Here is a revealing report (The Harvard Crimson):

    “In her remarks, Eck emphasized the ‘destructive’ nature of the positions Swamy advocated in India, and characterized the proposals as going well beyond free speech to the advocacy of abrogating human rights, curtailing civil rights, and intruding on freedom of religion. She wondered why the courses had not been ‘quietly dropped’, rather than submitted for approval in 2012. Swamy’s positions crossed the line to ‘incitement’ and to ‘demonizing’ Indian minorities, and were therefore sharply at odds with Harvard’s pluralism,” Eck said.

    But here was the real message: “Given President Faust’s planned trip to Mumbai and New Delhi in January, it would be important for people in that country to know where the faculty stood on the views Swamy advocated.”

    (Dr Swamy’s response: “… the vote at Harvard was nothing serious. …non-economists at Harvard don’t like my views on how to protect India.” Citing Eck and a colleague who also wanted his courses dropped, Swamy tweeted: “I have been held accountable at Harvard for what I write in India. This means India studies’ [Michael] Witzel and Eck are accountable in India. Healthy?”)


    Harvard President Drew Faust

    To get back to Eck’s reasoning, she wants President Faust to tell ALL Indians—1.2 billion of them— most of whom have never heard of Harvard let alone Professor Eck, that they should toe the line drawn for them by this religious scholar— a Christian who claims to speak for all of Harvard in the name of ‘pluralism’. Hinduism is a pluralistic religion, which Christianity and Islam with their exclusive beliefs are not, but this theologian would stand this on its head as only a theologian can.

    L’affaire Swamy: policing academic freedom

    So this committed Christian masquerading as a ‘pluralist’ wants to turn the Harvard President’s goodwill visit to India into a crusade against Hinduism! It is not hard to imagine what President Faust can expect if she were to carry Diana Eck’s message to India! As it is, she can expect a torrid time defending the sacking of Dr Swamy against Harvard’s own professed policy of safeguarding academic freedom.

    This brings us back to Eck’s (and her colleagues’) contempt for academic freedom when it rubs against their Orwellian brand of pluralism. It may not be out of place here to mention that a large number of Christian theologians led by Diana Eck signed a long letter of apology addressed to Muslim divines for past Christian violence against Muslims including the Crusades. No such apology has been forthcoming for violence against Hindus and other pagans during the Goa Inquisition in India (instigated by ‘Saint’ Xavier).

    It is hardly necessary to point out that academic freedom cannot come with strings attached. In the memorable words of Abraham Lincoln, 150 years ago, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” This applies to academic freedom no less than to personal freedom. But Diana Eck was able to persuade her faculty colleagues that her higher principle of pluralism cancelled out Swamy’s academic freedom along with the freedom of the economics department to choose who it may to teach its courses.

    When it comes to curtailing academic freedom, the problem is where to draw the line? Can a theologian like Diana Eck be allowed to act as thought police cum moral police to rule on the freedom of others? What if one were to apply a similar standard to Eck and her ilk? It is no secret (see Wikipedia) that she (and her likeminded colleague Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago Divinity School) follows a lifestyle that many in India and the U.S. consider perverse. Can this be brought up in approving Eck’s fitness to teach her courses? It can be argued, and has been argued that such people should be kept away from impressionable young minds who might be corrupted by their teaching and example. There would be howls of protests if Eck were treated in the same manner as Swamy for her personal conduct.

    Actually what Subramanian Swamy wrote and said had been said before by others before him including Jawaharlal Nehru and B.R. Ambedkar. (In addition, Swamy himself has close relatives who are non-Hindus including a Parsi-Zoroastrian wife and a Muslim son-in-law. He doesn’t need any lessons in pluralism.) All that is beside the point, what is stake is academic freedom being derailed by moral policing. Even at Harvard, other faculty members have engaged in hateful activity (which Swamy has not) that has been defended in the name of academic freedom. Diana Eck’s colleague Michael Witzel is a prime example.

    It is unnecessary to go into the details of the now discredited campaign by Michael Witzel and his associates trying to stop the removal of references to the Aryans and their invasion from California school books. What is remarkable is that a senior tenured professor at Harvard of German origin should have concern himself with how Hinduism is taught to children in California. Witzel is a linguist, but he presumed to tell California schools how Hinduism should be taught to children. It turned out that Hinduism was a convenient cover; his real concern was saving his pet Aryan myth from being erased from books. (This is not to deny his dislike of Hindus, especially those who question him, more of which below.) In the same way, Eck and her colleagues too are concerned about academic survival— of themselves as well as their discipline.

    Preserving a defunct belief system

    The reaction of the likes of Eck and Witzel can be understood only when we recognize that though Nazism and European colonialism, the twin pillars that supported Indology up to World War II are now defunct, some of their beliefs are part and parcel of what these academics represent. In particular they hold on to the notion of Indians, especially Hindus, as an inferior subject race who should submit to their stereotyping and behave accordingly. The fact that they don’t make them react viscerally when challenged as seen in what Eck did to Swamy and Witzel’s reaction to Hindus rejecting his Aryan theories. Having seen Eck’s reaction, it is worth taking a brief look at Witzel.

    In addition to his support for the Aryan theories and the California campaign, Witzel is known for his association with the notorious Indo-Eurasian Research (IER), which has been accused of a hate campaign against the Hindus. An article that appeared on December 25, 2005 in the New Delhi daily The Pioneer (for which Rudyard Kipling used to write) began: “Boorish comments denigrating India, Hindus and Hinduism by a self-proclaimed ‘Indologist’ who is on the faculty of Harvard University has unleashed a fierce debate over the increasing political activism of ’scholars’ who teach at this prestigious American university.

    “Prof Michael Witzel, Wales professor of Sanskrit at Harvard, is in the centre of the storm because he tried to prevent the removal of references to India, Hinduism and Sikhism in the curriculum followed by schools in California which parents of Indian origin found to be inadequate, inaccurate or just outright insensitive.” The author of The Pioneer article (Kanchan Gupta) went on to observe: “Witzel declared Hindu-Americans to be “lost” or “abandoned”, parroting anti-Semite slurs against Jewish people. Coincidence or symptom? Witzel’s fantasies are ominously reminiscent of WWII German genocide. He says that ‘Since they won’t be returning to India, [Hindu immigrants to the USA] have begun building crematoria as well. …”

    This extraordinary behavior on the part of Witzel, Eck and their colleagues can be understood only when we recognize their venial fear that the academic discipline which they represent may be on the verge of extinction. This is what we may look at next

    Contd
     
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  3. Singh

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    Swamy And His Harvard Enemies: The Real Story (Part 2)


    “Indology is an anachronism with colonial and racist roots that has outlived its purpose. India Studies should outgrow Indology if it hopes to be relevant and not join Indology in the dustbin of history.”



    To understand the visceral reaction of Diana Eck and her colleagues within and outside Harvard, it helps to recognize that the discipline they are part of is on its way into the dustbin of history. This is thanks to science and progress. The fact that Eck, a religious scholar who knows little or no Sanskrit should be the chair of the Sanskrit Department (or was until a few months ago when the department became part of South Asia Studies) is testimony to the state of Sanskrit at Harvard. There are village schools and undergraduate colleges in India with better Sanskrit scholars—and students—than Harvard today.


    Angana Chatterji

    Diana Eck wears several hats: in addition to religious studies she is listed as Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society and also heads her pet pluralism project. In other words, she is many things except a Sanskrit scholar. The fact that someone like her should be the Sanskrit chair speaks eloquently on the state of her discipline and the department she headed. This cannot go on forever and they know it. So these people have to find some gimmick just for academic survival. For Eck it is her ‘pluralism’ project; for her colleague Michael Witzel, it is the Aryan myth and fighting ‘Hindutva forces’.

    These academics are surviving on the decaying remains of the subject called Indology that came into existence during the British colonial era. It was created by ‘scholars’ sponsored by the British East India Company and Christian missionaries. Its goal was to help the British administer its expanding possessions by making British rule acceptable to Indians. At the core of this was the Aryan myth, a racial-cum-cultural myth that sought to attribute all Indian achievements to a mythical race of invaders known as Aryans.

    This is the famous (or infamous) Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). It had two incarnations—British colonial-missionary version and the German nationalist version that led to Nazism. The German version and the horrors of Nazism are well known but for some reason the way the British put the myth to political use has remained largely unnoticed. As a recent BBC report admitted (October 6, 2005):

    “It [Aryan invasion theory] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.”

    Although both versions have been fully discredited, its proponents have found a refuge in U.S. academia behind some fig leaf like Eck’s ‘pluralism’. This too is now under threat. This is what is behind her unusually blunt message to President Faust quoted earlier: “Given President Faust’s planned trip to Mumbai and New Delhi in January, it would be important for people in that country to know where the faculty stood on the views Swamy advocated.” Eck’s real concern is not survival of pluralism in India which owes nothing to Eck (or her message to President Faust) but Hinduism’s innate tolerance; her concern is the survival of her own pluralism project which may also come under the axe.


    Sugata Bose

    It is a similar story with Indology as a whole. Ever since he moved to Harvard from Germany, Witzel has seen the fortunes of his department and his field, gradually sink into irrelevance. Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in his field. Indology departments and programs are shutting down across Europe. One of the oldest and most prestigious, at Cambridge University in England, has recently shut down. This was followed by the closure of the equally prestigious Berlin Institute of Indology founded way back in 1821.

    Positions like the one Witzel holds (Wales Professor of Sanskrit, previously known as the Prince of Wales Professor) were created during the colonial era to serve as interpreters of India and Indian tradition to the ruling powers. They have lost their relevance and are disappearing from academia. No one today goes to these ‘experts’ to learn anything about India and Indians when they can get it from a next door neighbor, an office colleague or a relative by marriage. So these people need to show something to justify their existence. This was the real story behind Witzel’s California school campaign— not teaching Hinduism to California children.

    Institutionalized anti-Hinduism

    Indology as practiced by colonial scholars and their successors like Eck and Witzel should really be called Hindu Studies. Their targets are the Hindus, their religion, traditions and history. While they treat Islam and Muslims with utmost deference, partly out of fear of violent reaction, they don’t hesitate to heap criticism and abuse on Hindus and their beliefs. It is safe because Hindus usually don’t get violent.

    A central though usually unstated premise of these Indologists is that the Hindus are an inferior race and they should accept without question anything said about them by these scholars who constitute a superior race in every way. They have even constructed a ‘history’ of Hindus as a people who owe everything to a superior race of invaders called Aryans (or Indo-Europeans). Some religious scholars, notably Wendy Doniger of Chicago can see nothing but sex in Hindu texts. (It seems she can see nothing but sex in anything. She denounced the famous Bhagavadgita, probably because it gives no scope for her sexual fantasies. What is it about ‘religious scholars’ that makes them sex obsessed?)

    If any Hindu scholars object to this stereotyping pointing to recent discoveries in natural history, genetics and archaeology that have discredited all this, they are immediately denounced as chauvinists and fanatics incapable of logic or reason. (Their ‘refutations’ consist mainly of personal attacks as against Dr Swamy. Formerly, when their position was more secure, they resorted to ‘haughty dismissals’ as the historian of science A. Seidenberg termed it.) Western scholars like Koenraad Elst, N. Kazanas and David Frawley are also not spared for raising questions about their theories.

    This bizarre conduct of Indologists (calling themselves also Indo-Europeanists) intrigued the Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson who went on to ask: “Today it is disputed whether or not the downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with ‘Aryan’ religions.” One may rephrase the question: “Did the end of the Nazi regime put an end to race based theories in academia?” We may answer it by saying it is surviving in mutated forms on the fringes of Western academia in the hands of people like Eck and Witzel though they vehemently reject they are racists. (Who admits it?)

    In this academic and political conundrum it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Aryan myth is a modern European creation that has little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community. Also, it was nowhere as important in India as it came to be in Europe. In the whole the Rig Veda, in all of its ten books, the word Arya appears only about forty times. By way of contrast, Hitler’s Mein Kampf uses the term Arya and Aryan many times more. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air— in Europe, not India.


    Michael Witzel

    Before World War II reduced Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich to ashes, anti-Semitism was very much part of the discourse about Aryans and Indo-Europeans. But following the war this was no longer academically respectable. The American Civil Rights Movement that followed placed Afro-Americans (or Negros as they were then called) also beyond the pale of these theories. Race is now a dirty word so some subterfuges have to found to advance the same ideas, especially of one’s own superiority over a lesser race like the heathen Hindus, if no longer the Hebrews. This is the dirty little secret of Indology that India Studies seems to have inherited.

    The final word on their discipline was pronounced by Stefan Arvidsson quoted earlier. He observed: “There is something in the nature of research about Indo-Europeans [or Aryans] that makes it especially prone to ideological abuse— perhaps something related to the fact that for the past two centuries, the majority of scholars who have done research on the Indo-Europeans have considered themselves descendants of this mythical race.” Implicit yet unstated— a superior race.

    This is what is driving the likes of Eck and Witzel. To make matters worse, after a long period of colonization, Indians today, Hindus in particular, are on the ascendant, excelling in many fields and prospering economically while Indologists and their discipline are heading into oblivion. Worse, Indians are no longer looking up to these scholars much less supporting them. They are donating generously but to programs in science, technology and other professions where Indians and persons of Indian origin are visibly successful. Even at Harvard, there are few students of Indian origin in their Sanskrit department, whatever it may now call itself.

    Given the situation, the growing importance of India and Indians in the U.S. and the world and their own precipitous decline, it is probably natural for Witzel, Eck and their colleagues to have made common cause with other anti-Hindu groups and individuals. So it is no surprise that these and pro-Pakistani groups and Jihad apologists, as ‘birds of a feather’ should have come together on the common platform of anti-Hinduism and also as a matter of expediency.

    It is worth noting here that while the Jews and the Hindus have been willing to stand up to intimidation by Islamists (or Islamofascists to use President George Bush’s memorable if infelicitous phrase) the Christian leadership has all but surrendered to it. This is evident from the letter of apology for Christian violence against Muslims through history signed by Diana Eck and a host of her Christian theologian colleagues. Some others have gone further and sought to use anti-Hinduism as a potential source of funding from Islamic sources.

    One of the first acts of Michael Witzel following his California campaign was to advertise his services in Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn as a ‘South Asia Expert’ on education. His pitch was he could serve as a consultant to publishers and others to maintain academic integrity on works on South Asia. He didn’t mention he was a Professor of Sanskrit, which might have turned off potential Pakistani clients, but a South Asia Expert. (He knew that Pakistanis have no great love for Sanskrit.) At first the Indian Marxist historian Romila Thapar was also part of his enterprise, but she prudently withdrew.


    Ayesha Jalal

    A combination of anti-Hinduism and financial compulsions has brought together this motley group of academics, writers and propagandists on platforms spewing anti-India (and anti-Hindu) propaganda. Some like the novelist Arundhati Roy are pure publicity seekers while others like the India baiter Angana Chatterji are academic lightweights trying to make hay while the sun shines by pandering to anti-India outfits like Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence Agency (ISI).

    It has now come to light that Chatterji, who taught anthropology at something called the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) was being funded by the ISI agent Gulam Nabi Fai. Fai has pleaded guilty to being an unauthorized lobbyist for the ISI and Pakistan. He had funded several anti-India propagandists including Chatterji. The FBI brought this to the attention of the CIIS authorities who dismissed her. The curious thing is that the Harvard history professor Sugata Bose has participated in programs organized by Chatterji, even at Harvard.

    Sugata Bose is the odd man out. Unlike Angana Chatterji who is at best a fringe figure in academia, Bose is a respected scholar of modern history; he has no need to have any truck with a character like Chatterji. He takes pride in the fact that he is the grand-nephew of the Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, but he is anything but pro-India. One possibility is that he was acting under the influence of his Pakistani wife Ayesha Jalal, also a distinguished scholar. As a prominent member of the South Asia group at Harvard he is seen as part of the anti-Hindu clique. His was one of the influential voices to lend support to Diana Eck’s demand for the expulsion of Subramanian Swamy.

    India Studies: real pluralism, not clash of civilizations

    As India and persons of Indian origin gain in importance in the world, the study of India should necessarily keep pace with it. But this cannot be based on anachronistic notions drawn from defunct ideologies of the colonial era or scientifically discredited race theories in whatever disguise. The distinguishing feature of the Indian civilization throughout history has been and remains pluralism in the real sense. This should be at the center of any study of India today. This brings us to one of the popular academic theories of our time.

    One of the more influential political theories of our time is Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis. It holds that future conflicts will be along civilizational fault lines of which he identifies several, most notably what he calls Islam and its ‘bloody frontiers’. It would make for an interesting study to see if this thesis can be extended to academia also— like what we are currently witnessing at places like Yale and Harvard. There is no denying that the influence of Islam, largely because of its accumulated wealth (from oil) is pervasive in academia. The tension created by its presence in academia and academic freedom may be seen as a manifestation of the clash of civilizations extending its reach into academia.

    At the same time, academia (and society in general) has to live today in a secular world whose distinguishing feature is pluralism— pluralism in the real sense and not the Orwellian travesty held up by the likes of Diana Eck. Pluralism has to serve as a counter to civilizational clash, but that will require both imagination and openness to new ways of looking at history and civilization.

    Here is where India Studies can make a contribution if constructively studied. While pluralism is relatively recent in the West, beginning with French Revolution and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, it is of untold antiquity in India. Unlike the exclusivist Christianity and Islam with their one God (and the only true One) Hinduism left the choice of which god to worship—or none at all—to the individual. The separation of priestly power from secular power is also an ancient tradition. (The Buddha who was born a prince gave up his right to rule before being recognized as a religious leader. And there are other such examples beginning with Vishwamitra.)

    Hindu India allowed Judaism to survive unmolested for thousands of years. Even when Islam came with its exclusivist binary vision of believer and kaffir, the Indian genius somehow found a way to preserve its pluralism. If India today is a thriving pluralistic society it is because pluralism is an integral part of the Hindu tradition and experience, and not because of the advocacy of phony pluralists like Diana Eck or their gimmicks. (It is curious that Eck and other theologians in their letter of apology to Muslims should not have mentioned pluralism. Her pluralism message is only for the consumption of pluralist Hindus, not those who really need it. Those who want to destroy pluralism get apologies.)

    Here is an important lesson. The problem faced by the West (U.S. and Europe) today is that Islam is seen to be threatening long standing traditions founded on pluralism and individual freedom. The same problems were faced by India a thousand years ago. The West like India values pluralism. Islam abhors it. At the same time, Islam with its billion people and enormous economic power cannot be wished away. So some working balance must be achieved. This is the challenge of our time.

    This suggests that academic study of India, or India Studies should make pluralism of the Hindu civilization, especially its capacity to survive for centuries in the face of repeated attacks, one of its central concerns. In contrast, China under Mao lost its pluralistic character in a single generation, and then went on to erase it from Tibet also. This is of more than academic importance. In today’s world businessmen, diplomats and others have to deal with India and Indians in the real world. These cannot be left to the mercy of ‘India experts’ trapped in the past and frustrated with the present. In Shakespeare’s words: “What private griefs these men have, alas I know not.”

    Conclusion: Free India Studies from India Experts

    The 200 year-old discipline called Indology as it now exists has become the soft underbelly of academia. Its creation was an accident of history, perpetuated by a combination of scientific ignorance, political need and the self-interest of an academic priesthood. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great natural scientists of the twentieth century wrote:

    “In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature…. In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions.” (Emphasis added.) Needless to say, these ‘special conditions’ were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India.

    But this product of ‘special conditions’ continues to survive on the fringes of academia— thanks to the self-interest of an academic priesthood striving to maintain a precarious existence. It has no value beyond acting as a nuisance to better understanding between India and the West. What we need today are not ‘experts’ trapped in the past but a new generation of thinkers aware of present needs and sensitive to the beliefs and practices of others in a pluralistic world. This will not come from the likes of Diana Eck, Michael Witzel and their colleagues. As Max Planck once observed:

    “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.”

    Planck was one of the founders of modern physics and his observation was about the reaction to the quantum revolution that he (and Einstein) had launched. But his observation applies equally to other fields like what we have discussed in this essay. It means that a new generation has to make a fresh start and let history take care of these anachronisms.

    Swamy and his Harvard Enemies: The Real Story (Part 1) – Folks Magazine | News, Features, Analysis, Articles, Insights, Finance, Banking, Spirituality, Science & Technology
    Swamy and his Harvard Enemies: The Real Story (Part 2) – Folks Magazine | News, Features, Analysis, Articles, Insights, Finance, Banking, Spirituality, Science & Technology
     
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  4. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Swamy has the support of the Jewish lobbies and most of the towering faculties in American universities are Jewish.Swamy literally stirred a hornets nest as far as Harvard is concerned.

    I hate Indology as a discipline and i hate it personally for two reasons

    1)It did more damage to Indian culture's reputation it tried to homogenise the hindu religion

    2)It spawned and fuelled Nazism which caused the second world war
     
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  5. SHURIDH

    SHURIDH Senior Member Senior Member

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    swamy's article was totally supid.how dare he suggest force muslim and chirstian to accept hindu ansectory otherwise canceling voting right.it was a racist,commnual article.for him being hindu is the only qualification for a patriot indian.maulana abdul kalam azad ansector were not hindu.his father was from afgan ansectory and his mother was arab.on the other has ma jinnah's grand father was a hindu rajput.the first person did not have any hindu ansectory but the later person has strong hindu ansectory.but the first person is more patriot than others.
     
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  6. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Dr Swamy maybe a Hindu, his wife is a Parsi, his sister in law is a Christian, his son in law is a Muslim.

    If only one goes by these inputs, he is more secular than many who speak of secular credentials.

    Dr Swamy is a maverick. However, he does research the subjects he comments on. He is no lightweight. It, however, does not mean that one has to agree has to agree with him. He is so blunt that, at times, it is hard to accept what he writes.

    In so far as Muslms and their Indian lineage, most of the Indian and Pakistani Muslims, inspite of their claims being purebred Arabs or Persians, are of Indian origin.

    There are a great many Muslim leaders of India who are of Indian origin. And it is no shame to be of Indian origin.

    It is only the Arab steeds and racehorses in India, which are of pure Arabian origin!

    I, personally, do not subscribe to many of Dr Swamy's view.
     
  8. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Sir, the thoroughbreds used in horse racing, such as those of Poonawalas, may have some Arab ancestry.
     
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  9. trackwhack

    trackwhack Tihar Jail Banned

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    Whats so outrageous? Facts are facts. I am a Catholic and I have traced back the generation when my ancestors converted. I have no qualms accepting my Hindu ancestry.

    In north India there may be Muslims who are decendants of the Moghuls. But most Christians and Muslims in the South were Hindus sometime in the past. There is nothing wrong or demeaning in accepting that. I think criticism of Swamy's article is a tad over the top.
     
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  10. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Shuridh, did not most of the Indian Muslims and Christians have Hindu Ancestry? The first part is fact and the second part is the authors belief. Calling the article or the author stupid is your right, the same way Swamy can offer his own ideas as long as they do not incite any particular group to act in a violent manner.
     
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  11. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Yesterday, I came to know that P.Chidambaram was student of Swamy in Harvard.

    Why should I dislike Chidambaram?: Swamy - Rediff.com India News

    Sometime he is too blunt that even many right-winger folks/groups don't say such things. Many of his views are not accepted by majority of people but whatever he says, He always stand till end backed with his intensive research. He could be Brahmastra against Congress in time to come.
     
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  12. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Recently, A Muslim guy asked him "What is hidden agenda behind saying accept Hindu ancestral".

    He said Nothing hidden. "Openly declare and proudly that your ancestors are Hindus and not the rapists from abroad".

    What he said is fact, 95% Indian Muslims and Christians ancestors are Hindu only and they are not Uzbeki or Afgani or Arabi But to say such things, it's considered as communal in India. I agree with his point, May not agree with 1-2 other points which he made.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
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  13. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Pushed out of Harvard, professor returns fire

    Dismissal stirs debate over free speech

    Globe Staff / January 2, 2012

    Subramanian Swamy is an outspoken man. That is what got him into trouble last July. While teaching economics at the Harvard University summer school, he penned a sharply worded column for a newspaper in India, where he is a prominent right-wing politician.

    Many readers thought his proposals would deny Muslims basic rights and incite riots. Some 40 Harvard professors called for his dismissal.

    But the furor died down, or appeared to, after Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, defended Swamy’s right to free speech as “central to the mission of a university.’’ The economics department invited him back for another summer. Swamy heard nothing else from Harvard.

    Then, a few weeks ago, he checked his e-mail and learned - from a Google Alert for his name - that his colleagues had fired him anyway.

    Encouraged by a private note from the summer school’s dean, professors who opposed Swamy came to a faculty meeting where summer classes were to be approved. The process is usually a rubber-stamp affair, but the professors argued so passionately that Swamy’s courses were voted off the slate. No one told Swamy about the meeting.

    Now, the case has devolved into an imbroglio about hate speech and academic freedom. The professors who led the charge against Swamy are buried in angry e-mails from his supporters in India. Others are torn, despising both Swamy’s column and the way he was relieved of his duties. Faust is in an awkward spot: She is scheduled to visit India in January.

    And the usually outspoken Swamy - who has made few public comments on the issue, save a few Twitter postings - is finally firing back.

    “I was surprised Harvard would do this, given that the president’s office said free speech was sacred,’’ he said in an interview. “The people who cut me out are leftists who have nothing to do with economics. There’s no allegation that in my class I said anything offensive. There’s no allegation that it has affected my research. It’s almost like the Spanish Inquisition - they didn’t give me a chance.’’

    No one, including Swamy, disputes that the column, which appeared in the English-language Daily News and Analysis, is provocative. Published after a terror bombing in India, it lays out a strategy “to negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India, provided the Muslim community fail to condemn these goals and call them un-Islamic.’’

    Among its suggestions: remove an iconic mosque on the site of a Hindu temple “and 300 others in other sites as a tit-for-tat;’’ declare that “only those non-Hindus can vote if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus;’’ and “enact a national law prohibiting conversion from Hindu religion to any other religion.’’

    Potentially shocking words, but Swamy said he believed they had been misconstrued.

    Was he advocating the destruction of mosques? Not exactly, he said: “I said if they threw bombs on our temples, we could restore the temples they demolished earlier on.’’

    Did he want to keep Muslims from voting? No, he said: “I was searching for a way to unite Hindus and Muslims. Based on DNA research, we are descended from the same ancestors. I said that if you do not acknowledge that your ancestors are Hindus, you are identifying with those who came from outside, and for them we created Pakistan.’’

    To Swamy, these are reasonable points. To Diana Eck, the comparative religion professor who introduced the motion to cancel Swamy’s courses, they are “an open incitement to violence.’’

    “He begins by talking about ‘fanatic Muslims’ and proceeds to suggest means of remedy that would affect the entire Muslim population of India,’’ she said. “That’s not an alternative side of a heated political discussion. It’s advocating the abrogation of human rights.’’

    Since the meeting, Eck’s inbox has been flooded by Swamy’s allies. They accuse her of issuing a fatwa. Some call for the president to fire her; others blame the president herself for the mess (“Dr. Faust will NOT be welcome in India,’’ one e-mailer wrote).

    Eck and her colleagues also have critics who disapprove of what Swamy said but defend his right to say it. Among them is Harry Lewis, the former dean of Harvard College who often serves as its loyal opposition. Swamy’s column does not fit the legal definition of incitement, he said. (It also does not seem to have incited any violence.) It was political speech, he said, the kind often most in need of protection.

    More importantly, Lewis said, the back-channel way in which Swamy was dismissed sets a precedent that could be used against any professor who offends. “If you create a weapon,’’ Lewis said, “the weapon will eventually be used against you.’’

    But Eck called concerns about a slippery slope ridiculous. The faculty course approval process, she said, applies only to the summer school, and use of it in this manner is so rare that no one can remember another instance.

    Free-speech advocates have asked Harvard administrators for redress. Anne Neal, a Harvard alumna who is head of the higher education lobbying group American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said she welcomed Faust’s original expression of support. “Not to speak up a second time when these same principles are at play would be a very sad statement about governance at Harvard,’’ she said.

    But the school’s administration has been silent on the case since July, and it remains so, declining requests for comment.

    For his part, Swamy has moved on. He has no plans to sue Harvard. Actually, he said, he loves the school, where he has studied and taught on and off since 1962. He will not be seeking an academic position elsewhere: “It’s Harvard or nothing.’’

    He might have one opportunity to return. Hate speech or no, Eck said, she “felt kind of bad’’ that no one from Harvard had asked Swamy to explain himself while controversy flared. “There are many people who would like to have him come and speak,’’ she said. “Perhaps he will. I would certainly attend the talk.’’

    Harvard summer school professor, dismissed by faculty after controversial column in Indian paper, fires back - The Boston Globe
     
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  14. SHURIDH

    SHURIDH Senior Member Senior Member

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    i am not disagree with the fact that most muslims and i belive 90% muslims in india has hindu ansectory.i also have hindu ansectory.my great great grand father was a bengali hindu brahmin named surjokanta bhattacharje.we still have his matriqulition certificate.he converted to islam 130years ago.i heard my mother's maternal grand mom was also a hindu.i lived in murshidabad.murshidabad named after murshid quli khan who was a hindu brahmin later converted to islam.
    But at the same time 10% indian muslim did not have any hindu ansectory.the stupid swamy did not want to give them indian cityzenship and deny their voting right.what is this.those muslim who did not have any hindu ansectory may be mare 1.4% of indian population.but that does not mean you can deny their basic right and forced them to accept hindu ansectory.and the stupid swamy also claim persi also has hindu ansectory what is this.according to swamy theory maulana abul kalam azad,ashfaquallah khan is not indian.though they show immense love for india and fight for india.but they are not indian just because they don't have hindu ansectory.and the last thing forcing a person against his/her will can't be supported
     
  15. SHURIDH

    SHURIDH Senior Member Senior Member

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    @sob yes the most indian muslims and chirstans has hindu ansectory.i belive 90% has hindu ansectory.but 10% does not have what about them.the may be mere 1.5-2%of indian population but you can't deny their voting right.according to swamy though those 10% muslim and chirstans lives over 500-1000years by generations in india.they have love for india.they think india as their country.still they are not indian because they don't have hindu ansectory.thats how this person thinks.
     
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  16. SHURIDH

    SHURIDH Senior Member Senior Member

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    don't overestimate him.he is an idot just like digvijay singh.
     
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  17. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    I think the criticism is not with the hindu ancestry part but where he says to take away voting rights and all that nonsense.
     
  18. SHURIDH

    SHURIDH Senior Member Senior Member

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    but what about others who does not have hindu ansectory.10% indian muslim does not have hindu ansectory.10% of indian muslims means 18 million people.so the article which suggest to take away basic voting right and make 18 million people from minority community non cityzen.and forced them to acctept hindu ansectory of course a racist and communal article.
     
  19. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Surprisingly, He is not.
     
  20. Param

    Param Senior Member Senior Member

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    People in TN know best about him.
     
  21. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    That 10% is debatable one. Although I do agree that there is small number (3%-4%) whose ancestors are not Hindus. I am aware of such population and region. I am sure, He will give reasons for that specific population.

    I support his opinion that Christians and Muslims should accept Hindu ancestry and join mainstream culture of India and should avoid Arabi/European tradition. I don't agree with his POV to take away voting rights. That is neither going to happen nor it's correct.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012

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