Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

via Dr Vijaya Rajiva published on November 29, 2009
LETTER TO OTLOOK INDIA

The Editor,
Outlookindia.com,

Dear Mr. Mehta,

Here is one view from the Hindu Diaspora about Outlookindia’s coverage of the Liberhan Report concerning the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992. Your own editorial has not yet appeared, presumably it will, in due time.

As usual, Outlook has a wide spread of articles and some of them provided new info. and some were opinion pieces. Two of them caught my attention because both had  similar underlying presuppositions.

Ms Saba Naqvi writes an interesting article on the ambivalences of Shri Vajpayee and concludes that there is not sufficient evidence to show that he knew that the Babri would be attacked (‘Pseudocrat’s Tale’ Outlookindia, 07,2009),

Be that as it may, what is significant is the rather sweeping generalisation that she makes about the Hindu tradition :

” the moral ambiguities and dualism inherent in the great Indian traditions. “

Ms. Naqvi presumably is not familiar with the great Indian traditions and ought not to have so generalised. The German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein concluded his Tractatus Philosophicus with the famous line : Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

What, one wonders, does Ms. Navi know about the great Mahavakya of the Upanishads or the deep spirituality of the Vedas, or any of the religious/philosophical writings and sayings of the Hindu tradition ?

Has she read any of it ? And yet her partisanship misled her into an unwise generalisation. It was a jarring note and was quite revealing.

The second article which shares with her a similar ignorance of Hinduism is Jyotirmaya Sharma’s ‘The Thousand Year Myth’. The burden of his article is that the Liberhan Report is complicit in spreading the myth that Hindus are tolerant, peaceful people.

Sharma is an academic who teaches in the Political Science Department of Hyderabad University. He too has no serious knowledge of the Hindu tradition of philosophy and religion. And yet he wrote a book on Golwalkar, called Terrifying Vision, which is way off the mark.

Here again he has no knowledge of either Sanskrit or Marathi , both of which are essential for understanding Golwalkar’s thought. But his partisanship and  visceral dislike of Hindu thought led him to write this book. I recommend that he read Dr. Shrinivas Tilak’s  eminently scholarly work   ‘Reawakening to a secular Hindu Nation ‘ (Booksurge, 2008). Dr. Tilak is well versed in Sanskrit and Marathi and is also familiar with Western thought. Whether one agrees or not with his interpretation, his credentials are impeccable. In my own opinion (and I am a political scientist) the work is of formidable scope. It is certainly not a shallow venture into an area which the author is not familiar with.

It is disappointing to see a supposed academic  like Sharma disseminating false learning. He rushed into an area  without the requisite training or background.

I would now like to comment briefly on Outlookindia.

It is approximately a year since I started to read your publication. The articles are usually informative. However, I have not seen any articles from people who are not in the mainstream media’s attention or share their views (There was one exception, Francois Gautier’s article).

Even Times of India has a section where the Hindu view is presented. Articles are usually by Shri Tarun Vijay, Director of the Shyam Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation.

NDTV, Times Now, The Indian Express, Hindustan Times also present a different perspective every now and then, though not regularly.

NDTV did have a debate on the Liberhan Report, although it was marred by the college girl style of the anchor, Nidhi Razdan, who made no secret of her partisanship. She simply does not like the Hindu point of view, and frequently interrupted Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP with pointed barbs. Needless to say, she does not seem to be well prepared for these sessions and merely tosses off something, depending on what her interlocutor is saying.

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad was quite good and was not thrown off his main points by all this. He presented the Hindu viewpoint quite well. The others present were Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari (surprisingly subdued as compared to his usual loud, flamboyant refusal to let anyone else speak), Natwar Singh who pleaded old age as a reason for his not taking a position and Malini Chatterji who seemed to think that since she grew up with a vague awareness that Rama was born in Ayodhya, nothing else much had happened in India since her childhood !

As a ‘liberal ‘ paper Outlook has an obligation to present alternative points of view. I look forward to seeing those represented also.

Thanking You,

Sincerely,

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

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