Author Arundhati Roy Shocked by Penguin India's Recall of Wendy Doniger's Book
Penguin India has recalled and destroyed copies of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History. Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy spoke to the BBC regarding this situation, she "just couldn't believe they have done this." She said that Penguin India's decision to do this, "marks a shift, a very dismaying shift in submitting to the growing atmosphere of intolerance, where really the cenorship has been outsourced to the goon squad, and we are all extremely vulnerable." Listen to the interview on BBC News's website.
Penguin India has defended their desicion to recall the book, and released a statement on their website regarding this situation: "Penguin Books India believes, and has always believed, in every individual's right to freedom of thought and expression, a right explicitly codified in the Indian Constitution. This commitment informs Penguin's approach to publishing in every territory of the world, and we have never been shy about testing that commitment in court when appropriate. At the same time, a publishing company has the same obligation as any other organisation to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can. The settlement reached this week brings to a close a four year legal process in which Penguin has defended the publication of the Indian edition of The Hindus by Wendy Doniger. We have published, in succession, hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of the title. International editions of the book remain available physically and digitally to Indian readers who still wish to purchase it. We stand by our original decision to publish The Hindus, just as we stand by the decision to publish other books that we know may cause offence to some segments of our readership. We believe, however, that the Indian Penal Code, and in particular section 295A of that code, will make it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression without deliberately placing itself outside the law. This is, we believe, an issue of great significance not just for the protection of creative freedoms in India but also for the defence of fundamental human rights."
Photo Credit: Augustus Binu