Wendy Doniger controversy: Why Dinanath Batra is a happy man

Dinanath Batra is clearly the man of the moment following the recent controversy over publisher Penguin's decision to no longer publish and sell Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An alternative history.

The agreement was signed after Batra filed a complaint petition against the book alleging that it was written with an intention to distort Hinduism and that it was filled with factual errors. Batra has also appeared on television shows such as NDTV's Social Network where he discussed what he found so offensive in the book.

He said that the author's intent, content and language were offensive.

"The writer clearly says her intention is to bring out the issue of sex in Hinduism. She clearly says I only want to write about sex in Hinduism," Batra said on the show.

When asked whether demanding the book be removed was an extreme step and wrong in terms of freedom of speech, Batra defended himself saying, "Freedom of speech is fine but we can't allow all sorts of books to be published in India."

 Wendy Doniger controversy: Why Dinanath Batra is a happy man

Screenshot of Wendy Doniger's book.

According to a Mint profile, Doniger is not the first target for 84-year-old Batra.

Batra and his Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti are already responsible for protesting against the inclusion of AK Ramanujam's essay 300 Ramanyanas from the Delhi University syllabus. He's also sent legal notices to N Ram over articles published in Frontline magazine dealing with terror attacks involving Hindu suspects. And he has no plans of stopping with his agenda of 'cleaning education.'

The profile states:

"Batra wants to go further, to create a national non-governmental commission to examine and approve syllabi. He has already begun holding monthly meetings with proposed committee members."

And what does Batra want?

A national syllabus shaped according to his world view. “We want a total change in the system”, he is quoted as saying, “we want ‘Indianness’ in the field of education”.

Batra also plans to go after another book titled On Hinduism by Doniger as well.

Doniger's book looks at Hinduism and ancient Hindu text using psychoanalysis.  The author has expressed her disappointment at the decision of her publisher and blamed India's penal system for it.

She wrote in a statement, "I was, of course, angry and disappointed to see this happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate...the true villain of this piece — the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book.

Penguin has chosen to remain silent on the controversy for now.

Updated Date: Feb 12, 2014 16:19:26 IST