The decision by Penguin Books India to recall and destroy all copies of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History in response to challenges in the country that the book was in violation of Indian penal codes that outlaw acts intended to outrage religious feelings continues to have reverberations. In the most recent action a group of academics has started a petition on change.org asking Penguin to continue to contest the case while also urging lawmakers to revise Indian laws to “protect works of serious academic and artistic merit from motivated, malicious and frivolous litigation.”
Penguin Random House spokesperson Stuart Applebaum said the company is aware of the petition drive and “stands with signatories in their strong desire to see the repressive Indian Penal Code which supported this legal action repealed." He noted that the settlement Penguin India reached in Indian is not binding outside of the country.
Asked if the controversy surrounding the pulping of The Hindus and what some see as growing pressure on freedom of speech in India is affecting PRH publishing plans in the country, Applebaum said the publisher remains committed to publishing in India. “Our Penguin Random House India publishing division is a vital contributor to Indian political, social, and cultural discourse, the Indian publishing and bookselling community, and to Indian readers,” Applebaum said. “We look forward to supporting their publication of many vibrant nonfiction and fiction titles ahead.”