Censorship and Self-Censorship in India or: How Many Penguins Can Stand On a Book Before It Sinks?

Wendy Doniger

Censorship and Self-Censorship in IndiaSince Penguin India, under legal attack by Dina Nath Batra, agreed, in February of this year, to cease publication of Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, much has happened in the world of letters in India (not to mention the election of Narenda Modi, in the world of politics). There have been massive protests, an unsuccessful attack by Batra upon another of Doniger’s books from another publisher (On Hinduism, published by the Aleph Book Company), attacks upon books by other scholars, and the withdrawal of other books merely in anticipation of such attacks. The story behind the very different actions of Penguin and Aleph is quite revealing, and may suggest practical measures to take in dealing with these problems in the future – if, indeed, there is to be a future for publishing in India.

On Wednesday, October 1, Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will speak about her experience with these two publishing companies and about the problems facing writers publishing in India.

Professor Doniger’s talk is co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the Department of Religion at Barnard; the South Asia Institute; the Barnard Center for Research on Women; the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma; the Department of Religion at Columbia; and Club Zamana, Columbia’s South Asian Students’ Association.

This event is free and open to the public. Email ircpl.org with questions. Refreshments will be served.