Oxford UP Press Pulls Geographical Dictionary After Outcry in Karnataka

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Tue May 22 13:52:03 UTC 2007

Oxford U. Press Pulls Geographical Dictionary After Outcry in India

Oxford University Press has suspended sales of a gazetteer published in
2005 after an outcry over errors that was led by historians and government
officials in the southern state of Karnataka, the Khaleej Times reports.
Among other errors, the book, the Concise Dictionary of World Place Names,
says that the local language in Bangalore, Karnatakas capital, is Bengali.
Actually the language is Kannada. Bengali is spoken in Bangladesh and
neighboring regions of northeastern India. The episode, in which simple
factual errors occasion an international dispute, points up the
extraordinary sensitivity in India to anything that might be perceived as
a slight on the countrys history, its cultures and religions, or other
elements of its rich traditions.

The incident resembles in some ways what happened a few years ago to a
book about a revered 17th-century Hindu king by a professor at Macalester
College. The books findings drew harsh criticism from Hindu activists, who
in 2004 attacked a research center that had helped the American professor
with the book. An Indian court ruled only last month that the scholar
could not be prosecuted for stirring up sectarian strife with the book.
Like the gazetteer, the professors book was published by Oxford University
Press. And like the gazetteer, the book was swiftly yanked from the Indian
market by its publisher. Andrew Mytelka


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