Wednesday, January 20, 2016

my book review on rediff of rajiv malhotra's "battle for sanskrit"

here's my book review of this important and readable book.


http://www.rediff.com/news/column/column-why-the-battle-for-sanskrit-needs-to-be-joined/20160120.htm


here is an extract:


'The destruction of culture has become an instrument of terror, in a global strategy to undermine societies, propagate intolerance and erase memories.'
--Irina Bokova, director-general, UNESCO

Irina Bokova wrote this in reference to the visible destruction of heritage sites in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya ('Terrorists are destroying our cultural heritage. It's time to fight back,' World Economic Forum Global Agenda, January 18, 2016), where she also talked about the #unite4heritage campaign, launched last year. She had three suggestions: Prevent trafficking in objects, reinforce preventive actions, and strengthen international cooperation.

The wholesale rape and pillage of Mesopotamian sites, and earlier of Bamiyan, are clearly catastrophes of the first order. The irony, though, is that a subtle but equally malign destruction of Indic heritage has been going on virtually unnoticed for a few centuries, although it has accelerated in scale, ruthlessness and effectiveness in the recent past.

Rajiv Malhotra, well known for articulating the civilisational attack on India by malevolent Western forces, concentrates on the topic of language in his latest book, The Battle for Sanskrit, for, he suggests, Sanskrit is the prize for the deracination project.

Rajiv Malhotra was a lone voice in the wilderness for some time, but I am delighted that he has gained a dedicated following. I am glad to have played a small part in bringing him to the attention of the Indian reader with my piece on Rediff.comFear of Engineering in 2002. Since then, in a series of penetrating books, he has turned around and analysed Western scholars as anthropological specimens, exactly the way they analyse us.

Needless to say, that has not endeared him to them. In 2002, the concerns expressed, about obscure American academics, may have seemed abstruse, but in the fullness of time they have become life-and-death issues for Indian civilisation. It is not a coincidence that we are seeing withering attacks on Hindu culture via, say, Jallikattu and Sabarimala.

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