Dilip Simeon's Blog
April 25, 2012
Taking a strong exception to the UGC's decision to award post-doctoral fellowship on Salman Rushdie's writing, Darul Uloom Deoband has demanded "immediate remedial steps to correct the high impropriety". The Islamic seminary is apparently miffed by the topic - "Use of Magic and Realism in the major novels of Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth" - chosen by a scholar in the Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut.
"To glorify Rushdie is an overt act of treachery and a government body like UGC should have used its imagination better. This step raises serious concerns about its style of functioning. Darul Uloom Deoband strongly condemns it," official spokesperson Ashraf Usmani said on Monday."Our stance on Rushdie has been clear. The author of 'The Satanic Verses' has blasphemed against Islam and hurt sentiments of devout Muslims all over the world," Usmani told TOI over phone. "Any attempt to glorify him or his writings would only lead to promotion and build up of his image. He deserves to be shunned. Moreover, 'The Satanic Verses' still carries a ban by Indian government and going by the law, he should be considered blacklisted. Meerut University and the UGC, who are apparently party in the grant of the fellowship, must cancel it with immediate effect," he said..
Deoband Heat 'Forces' University to Scrap Paper on Controversial Author Salman Rushdie:
Chaudhary Charan Singh University (CCSU) in Meerut has cancelled the post-doctoral fellowship of Prabha Parmar, who was awarded research work on the novels of three authors, including controversial writer Salman Rushdie. Darul Uloom Deoband had opposed any study on Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, which is banned in the country, though Parmer's ambit of research reportedly did not cover the novel.
But in an official communication dated April 23, 2012, sent to her, Prof. Arun Kumar, department of English, (CCSU), gave another reason for cancelling her fellowship: That she is on maternity leave and is yet to start the research work sanctioned by the UGC this January. 'This has reference to the UGC letter dated January 23, 2012, on the subject of the award for fellowship for the year 2011-2012 (Category OBC) for your topic Use of Magic Realism in the Major Novels of Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth in the subject of English. 'You joined the department on February 13, 2012, and on the next day asked for maternity leave for three months till May 13, 2012,' the letter read. 'You have technically not started your research work, which was approved by the UGC on January 23, 2012.'Please be informed that the department of English will not be able to provide any facilities for your fellowship,' it stated.
Not ready to speak on the issue, Parmar merely confirmed the receipt of the letter on Wednesday. But a source close to her said that the department had not raised any objection before some members of the university tried to create a controversy. Ashraf Usmani, chairman of Darul Ifta, fatwa department of Darul Uloom, Deoband, had said on Monday they were preparing to oppose the fellowship. 'The CCSU had allowed a student to do research on a book (The Satanic Verses) which was banned in India. 'This means that the ban on the book is mere eyewash and the government supports a student to read it and do research on it,' he had said. Expressing his satisfaction over the fresh decision, Usmani said: 'They stand corrected. We are happy about it.'
NB: Over the past four months, the Deoband Ulema has contributed to the climate of intolerance and religious bigotry in India. First by opposing Rushdie's presence at the Jaipur Literature Festival, and now by sabotaging a perfectly legitimate subject for research. In the first instance they succeeded by riding on the backs of various hooligans disguised as 'Muslim leaders', and now by presenting themselves as the self-appointed representatives of 'hurt sentiment' - that tried and tested weapon of communal politicians of all colours. (Witness the hue and cry over AK Ramanujam’s Many Ramayanas). They want Rushdies work to be excluded from bona-fide literary research, even if the research does not explicitly take up The Satanic Verses. In Jaipur, there were threats of violence - with talk of 'rivers of blood' etc. The Ulema ought to have condemned such statements in clear and explicit terms, but we did not hear of it. We only heard of their sentiments. After this precedent, the Deoband Ulema can continue dictating our research programmes indefinitely.
By any sensible standard of reasoning, to research something does not imply 'glorification'. If I study various versions of the Ramayana, this does not imply that I'm glorifying this or that version. If I study the bombardment of Hiroshima, this does not mean I approve of atomic warfare. The study of Mein Kampf does not imply an admiration of Adolf Hitler. If I read Golwalkar's or VD Savarkar's writings, it does not follow that I sympathise with the RSS. Studying Pol Pot does not make the researcher a proponent of genocide. The Deoband Ulema should reflect on the damage they are doing to the very basis of academic research by citing 'hurt sentiment' to oppose a legitimate literary research programme.
It's ironic that in India today we can study the ideas of mass murderers, Nazis, fascists, racists, imperialists, communalists etc etc., but Deoband will not let us study Rushdie. Wonderful! I suggest the Ulema examine the compatibility of their religious norms and sentiments with the brutal treatment of Asiya Bibi, a worker and mother of five children, condemned to hang on mere hearsay; and the acquittal of the men who assaulted Mukhtar Mai. The intellectuals of Deoband need to understand that by raising such issues repeatedly, they contribute to the fascist degeneration of the Indian polity - Dilip
Newly Posted Press Statement: "We Condemn The Attempt Of Bodies Like Deoband To Encroach On Our Academic Space" - 27 April 2012
Resist the Climate of Intimidation in Academics
It is a matter of deep distress that a threat from Darul Uloom Deoband has forced Prabha Parmar, a research scholar at the Chaudhary Charan Singh University to change the topic of her post-doctoral research: Use of magic and realism in the major novels of Salman Rushdie,Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth. Taking strong exception to the UGC's decision to award a post-doctoral fellowship to the scholar on a topic that included Rushdie’s writings, Darul Uloom Deoband demanded “immediate remedial steps to correct the high impropriety.” Terming the award an act of ‘glorification’ of Salman Rushdie, the seminary asked for the writer to be blacklisted and for the award to be cancelled with immediate effect. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation created by this statement led Meerut University to cancel the fellowship. Later the scholar withdrew her research proposal.
This is yet another assault on the space of scholarship and free enquiry which represents the essential character of a university. In recent months there have been many instances of academic institutions succumbing to threats issued by religious and sectarian bodies and withdrawing texts and films or modifying syllabi or curricula to please them. The point at issue is not the controversial nature of the text, because freely debating such texts is the very purpose of intellectual inquiry. Rather, the crucial point is the climate of intimidation and the thinly-disguised threat of violence that informs the language of those making such demands. They constantly remind us that their sentiments are inflamed enough to spark off bloodshed. They crush the spirit of inquiry by intimidating those who disagree with them. They assume the fake title of representatives of this or that community to enforce their claims. And our spineless authorities allow them to do this with impunity. This time it is the Deoband ulema who have claimed yet another academic victim.
We condemn the attempt of bodies like Deoband to encroach on our academic space. It is time for all Indian academicians and intellectuals who believe in the freedom of thought to firmly defend our right to free enquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. We appeal to Meerut University and the UGC to stand by the scholar and encourage her to pursue her research on a topic of her choice.
1. Aditya Nigam, CSDS
2. Amlan Dasgupta, Jadavpur Unv
3. Aniket Alam, Senior Assistant Editor, Economic and Political Weekly.
4. Anita Cherian
5. Apoorvanand , Professor, DU
6. Arma Ansari, ANHAD
7. Arshad Ajmal, Sahulat, delhi
8. Asha Bhagat
9. Ashok Vajpeyi, poet, writer
10. Biraj Patnaik, Right To Food campaign
11. Dhruva Narayan, Managing Editor, Daanish Books
12. Dilip Simeon
13. Furqan Qamar, VC Central Unv of Himachal Pradesh
14. Gauhar Raza, scientist, poet
15. Gautam Bhan
16. Harsh kapoor
17. Irfan Khalifa, television journalist
18. Ishwar Dost , Asst. Prof., CSSEIP, Goa University.
19. J Devika, Centre for development studies, Trivandrum, Kerala.
20. Jairus Banaji
21. Jamal Kidwai
22. Jyoti Punwani
23. Jyotirmay Sharma
24. Kausar Wizarat
25. Kavita Panjabi, Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla
26. Kavita Srivastava, PUCL National Secretary
27. Khairunnisa Pathan, Parwaaj
28. Khurshid Anwar
29. Mahmood Farooqui, Dastango
30. Mahtab Alam, civil rights activist and journalist
31. Manoj Mitta, Journalist
32. Mary E John,
33. Mehtab Alam
34. Moinak Biswas
35. Momin Latif
36. Mukul Sharma, Writer and Researcher
37. Musab Iqbal, Editor, newzfirst.com
38. Naseem Mansuri, Niswan
39. Naseem Shaikh, Niswan
40. Nasiruddin Haider Khan, Journalist
41. Naveen Kishore
42. Nayanjot Lahiri, professor, DU
43. Nilanjana Gupta, Professor of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
44. Nirantar, Resource Centre for Gender & Education
45. Nivedita Menon, JNU
46. Noorjahan Ansari, Niswan
47. Noorjahan Diwan, ANHAD
48. omair anas
49. Parthasarthi Bahumik, Jadavpur Unv
50. Prof Rama Kant Agnihotri (Rtd., Univ of Delhi)
51. Purwa Bharadwaj
52. Ramchandra Guha
53. Rehana Qureshi, Nyayagrah
54. Rohan D'Souza
55. S.Irfan Habib, historian
56. Satya Shivaramn
57. Satish Deshpande, DSE, DU
58. Semeen Ali
59. Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Anhad
60. Shakeel Shaikh, Ahmedabad
61. Shamina Diwan, Parwaaj
62. Sharifa Chhipa, Niswan
63. Sheba george, Sahr waru, Gujarat
64. Shivam vij, journalist, delhi
65. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist/writer
66. Sohail Hashmi, Writer, Film Makerli
67. Sucheta Bhattacharjee
68. Usman Shaikh, Nyayagrah
69. Waqar Qazi, Social Activist, Anhad, Gujarat
70. Zafar Syed, banker, Mumbai