Ravi Singh, co-publisher of Aleph Book Company, has quit apparently in protest against the manner in which Aleph seemed to have yielded to those calling for a ban on Wendy Doniger’s On Hinduism. Sources said he also questioned the decision by Rupa — Aleph’s publishing partner — to publish a translation of BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi’s poetry during the election campaign.
Aleph was founded in May 2011 by David Davidar in partnership with R K Mehra and Kapish Mehra of Rupa Publications India.
Rupa Publications will launch the English translation of Modi’s 67 poems, A Journey, Poems by Narendra Modi, on April 20. Described as “the story of Mr Modi’s rise from humble beginnings to high political office” in verse, the translation is by Ravi Mantha.
While Dina Nath Batra of the RSS-backed Shiskha Bachao Andolan (SBA) had claimed that Rupa Publications had assured him the Doniger book would be withdrawn, Ravi Singh had then told The Indian Express: “We are not withdrawing the book and we are not terminating any contract.”
Days later, however, Aleph issued a statement that the Doniger book is out of stock and will not be reprinted until it is reviewed by four independent scholars in the light of objections raised by Batra. The Aleph episode had come within days of Penguin India agreeing to withdraw the other Doniger book — The Hindus — after Batra dragged them to court.
Sources confirmed that Singh was “uncomfortable” with the way the publishing house was proceeding with the Doniger controversy and felt that it would eventually move in a direction where he would have no say at all. But when asked about his resignation, Singh told The Indian Express: “I’m happy that together with David I set up and nurtured a wonderful company but it’s time to move on now.”
This was echoed by David Davidar, Aleph’s publisher. “It is with regret that I would like to announce the resignation of Ravi Singh… I would like to thank him for everything he has done for us and, on behalf of everyone at Aleph, wish him the very best for the future,” Davidar said in a statement emailed to this newspaper.
Neither Davidar nor Kapish Mehra replied to text messages asking them if Singh’s resignation was linked to the publication of Modi’s verse or the Doniger decision.