Penguin Random House Drops ‘Hindutva’, More Words From Varavara Rao’s Latest Book: Report
Penguin Random House India legal team reportedly removed words like ‘Hindutva’, ‘Sangh Parivar’ and ‘saffronization’ from Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s latest book Varavara Rao: a revolutionary poetthe Quintet reported.
The book, which has not yet been released, will become the first collection of poems translated into English by Rao, 81, who was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. He is currently out on medical bail.
Rao’s last book is an anthology of his poems, which is representative of his six-decade-long literary career.
Rao has been associated with various grassroots movements since the 1960s and was arrested in August 2018 for his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon affair.
In 2014, Penguin had removed their own book The Hindus by Wendy Doniger following complaints from groups claiming the book presented a “distorted” view of Hinduism.
Earlier this year, on Ambedkar Jayanti (April 14), Penguin Random House released a book Dalit Truth, which she says “analyzes the current status of Dalits, economically, socially and politically, the relevance of Ambedkar and the new path of empowerment to be forged”.
The book, which featured expert opinions from authors such as Sukhdeo Thorat, Badri Narayan and Bhanwar Meghwanshi; activist and congressman Jignesh Mevani; and scholar Suraj Yengde, has been described as “a symphony of Dalit voices as they call out to the future”.
The publisher also claimed that “the multitude of Dalit truths and their struggles against the lies perpetrated by the caste system are reflected in the pages of this book, pointing to a future filled with promise and prospects for generations to come” .
However, less than a month after the release of the dalit truthRao’s latest collection of poems was allegedly censored by Penguin Random House’s legal team, according to the Quintet report.
The report says the words in question were removed from the latest edition of Rao’s book and the outlet speculated that the decision was made to avoid being charged by the government under repressive laws such as the sedition or defamation.
Rao did not give an answer because, as one of his relatives said, one of the conditions of his bail was that he would not speak to the media.
Thread has contacted senior officials at Penguin Random House India for comment. This article will be updated as they respond.
Incidentally, Varavara Rao: a revolutionary poet also suffered delays last year and, moreover, the delays were attributed to an unfavorable legal opinion.
Outlook The magazine reported in November last year that after the delays prompted a strong backlash against the publishing house on social media, Rao’s nephew N. Venugopal said he was expecting a ” second favorable legal opinion”.
The contract for the book was signed in 2020 and the publisher then specified that it would be released in mid-2021. However, the contract provided for a 24-month release window.
Venugopal had said publishers had until October 2022 to release the book, failing which “publishers can either sue them for breach of contract or we can go public that they have stopped publishing.”
Three out of 65 poems were dropped in 2021
On why three of Rao’s poems out of the 65 selected were removed from the collection, Venugopal had cited “legal issues” since they were written while Rao was facing a trial.
“There have been legal issues because he is under a case, so the poems he wrote during the case are pending. That’s why we dropped the three poems. The editors have said that because he is in a business, it can lead to problems, ”said the Outlook report had quoted Venugopal as saying.
The report also noted that Penguin Random House published a translated collection of Rao’s prison letters, titled captive imagination, which led Venugopal to say:Penguin published his letters from prison in 2010, so if writing from prison is no problem, these poems (in the new book) are just republications of what has appeared in Telugu over the past 60 years.