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Campaign for removal of Pollock from Murthy Library stepped up

Press Trust of India 

Intensifying the campaign for removal of Sheldon Pollock as mentor and Chief Editor of Murty Classical Library, 132 personalities from various institutions across the country, mostly Professors, have signed an online petition addressed to IT czar N R Murthy and his son Rohan Murty seeking his exit.

Listing out their arguments against Pollock, the petitioners said he is a prominent signatory to two recent statements released by US academicians condemning the actions of the JNU authorities and the central government against separatist groups which are calling for the independence of Kashmir and for India's breakup.

The online petition on "http://change.Org" has received support from over 14,000 people so far.

The Murty Classical Library of aims to make available the great literary works of the country from the past twomillennia.

Set up by University Press with the help of a personal endowment in 2010 by Rohan Murty, the library aims to publish 500 books over the course of the century.

Appreciating the Murty Classical Library, the petition says "...Such a historical project would have to be guided andcarried out by a team of scholars who not only have proven mastery in the relevant Indian languages but are also deeply rooted and steeped in the intellectual traditions of "

It said they also need to be imbued with a sense of respect and empathy for the greatness of Indian civilisation.

Stating that Pollock has been a well-known scholar of philology, the petition said it is also well-known that he has "deep antipathy towards many of the ideals and values cherished and practiced in our civilization." It said "he echoes the views of Macaulay and Max Weber that the shastras generated in serve no contemporary purpose except for the study of how Indians express themselves."

"He has forcefully articulated this view in his career, starting with his 1985 paper, "The Theory of Practice and the Practice of Theory in Intellectual Tradition" (Journal of the American Oriental Society).

"He sees all shastras as flawed because he finds them frozen in Vedic metaphysics, which he considers irrational and a source of social oppression," it added.

Among those who signed the petition includeProf.K. Ramasubramanian from Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, Prof. Ramesh C Bhardwaj, Head, Department of Sanskrit of Delhi University, Dr Kapil Kapoor, former Pro Vice Chancellor, JNU, New Delhi, among others.

Stating that they are "dismayed" that Pollock has been appointed Chief Editor and mentor of the entire programme, the petitioners said that Pollock does not claim to be politically neutral.

They said in recent years, Pollock has been a prominent signatory to several statements which are of a purely political nature and devoid of any academic merit; those statements have condemned various policies and actions of the government of India.

Accusing Pollock of showing disrespect for the unityand integrity of India by signing the petition condemningaction against separatist groups, the petitioners said "we submit that such an individual cannot be considered objective andneutral enough to be in charge of your historic translationproject."

They have also recommended reconstituting the editorial group of the project with certain suggestions.

First Published: Thu, March 03 2016. 21:07 IST