SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, February 13, 2014 (HAF): In light of a multitude of inquiries with regard to Penguin India's decision to withdraw controversial scholar, Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History," the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) issues the following statement.
HAF is against censorship or the banning of books in any country or fora. In fact, we have consistently held that Doniger's many published works are profoundly problematic based on their selective use of facts and questionable methodology, but the preferred course of action is to challenge and debate, provide rebuttals, and publish accounts of Hinduism and its history that present the deep insight and emic perspectives so obviously lacking in Doniger's work.
This particular case, however, is not one of banning, but the result of a legal, out-of-court settlement, which Penguin books entered into willingly with Delhi-based Shiksha Bachao Andolan ("The Save Education Movement"). In response to a lawsuit brought only four years ago under the Indian Penal Code, whose Section 295A forbids speech which "deliberately and maliciously inflames religious sentiment," Penguin appears to have calculated that the liability for errors and excessive editorial liberties taken by Doniger outweigh the potential harm its reputation may sustain by surrendering rather than championing free speech.
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