The book was challenged by a Hindu group who claimed in its lawsuit the book “denigrated Hindus and show[s] their religion in poor light.”
According to the New York Times, “Penguin’s decision settled a case involving Section 295a of the Indian penal code, which outlaws acts “intended to outrage religious feelings.””
It’s disappointing to see books challenged for their thoughts. Obviously, not everyone is going to like or even appreciate books, but the idea that people are allowed to share their opinions through the written word should be universal.
Sometimes, it’s going to be controversial. Sometimes, it’s going to be something you wholeheartedly disagree with, but people should be allowed to have their voice.
It seems all this Hindu group did was let Doniger’s voice to grow even louder because here is where the group fails: despite it winning, you can’t kill the digital version.
“If the purpose of these gentlemen was to keep people from buying my book and reading it, it has backfired quite wonderfully,” Doniger told NPR’s Robert Siegel.
“The book is much more popular than it ever would have been before. … Copies are circulating in India and Kindle is available in India. There’s just all sorts of ways that one can get a book. It’s not like the bad, old days when you had to smuggle a copy of Ulysses from Paris. One can read this book in all sorts of ways.”
Amazon launched the India Kindle store in 2012, and Flipkart is one of the most popular outlets for ebooks. However, certain studies have shown that ebooks account for about 1 percent of the publishing market in India, but many also believe the potential for India in the digital realm is great and will take off within the next couple of years. Here’s an article from DNAIndia dissecting the India ebook market.
Here is also a statement by the National Book Critics Association on the incident.