Nearly six years after American scholar Sheldon Pollock was chosen to steer the course of the Murty Classical Library of India (MCLI) — an ambitious dual-language publication series brought out by Harvard University and the Harvard University Press — a group of 132 Indian academicians has signed a petition seeking his removal from MCLI as mentor and general editor.
The petition, to Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and his son Rohan Murty, stated that Pollock had shown “disrespect for the unity and integrity of India” by condemning “actions of the JNU authorities and Government of India against separatist groups”.
“We submit that such an individual cannot be considered objective and neutral enough to be in charge of your historic translation project,” it added.
On February 26, K Ramasubramanian, department of humanities and social sciences, IIT Bombay, started the petition on change.org, to draw attention of the Murthy family, which donated $5.2 million to Harvard University to establish MCLI in 2010, to Pollock’s “deep antipathy towards many ideals and values cherished and practiced in our civilization. He echoes the views of Macaulay and Max Weber that the shastras generated in India serve no contemporary purpose except for the study of how Indians express themselves”. The petition was later attributed to Ganesh Ramakrishnan, department of computer science and engineering, IIT Bombay.
The group of Indian academics who signed it include Madhu Kishwar (CSDS, Delhi), V Kutumba Sastry (president, International Association of Sanskrit Studies), Makarand Paranjape (department of English, Delhi University), N Gopalaswami (former CEC).
The petition also said that Pollock had been “a prominent signatory of several statements which are of a purely political nature”. On February 15, Pollock had signed a statement released by over 440 academics in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe, condemning the “police presence on (JNU) campus and harassment of students on the basis of their political beliefs”. Rohan Murty and Pollock could not be reached for comment.