Rajiv Malhotra, appointed honorary professor at JNU’s Centre for Media Studies, has also been accused of propagating fake news. 

New Delhi: A recent viral video clip had two men making some incredulous claims. They debate a business pitch that involves approaching billionaires such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and promising to transfer some of their wealth from this life to their “next lives”.

The proposal, which the two men call Interlife Reincarnation Trust Management, is to help billionaires who may be “born poor” or in “some African country” in their next lives.

On 30 October, the man at the heart of the ‘business’ proposal, tech millionaire and Right-wing ideologue Rajiv Malhotra, was appointed as the honorary faculty to the foremost liberal arts institution in the country, Jawaharlal Nehru University, or JNU, in the national capital.

The Indian-American author, who studied physics at Delhi’s St Stephen’s College and has a degree in computer science from Syracuse University in the US, is known for his fervent tweets on the multiple goods of Hindutva.

Malhotra’s website claims he retired from Silicon Valley at 40 to pursue philanthropy, research and public service. He established an NGO, Infinity Foundation, for this purpose in 1994.

According to his website, he is the “man behind the thought revolution” and has conducted “original research” in a variety of fields and influenced many other thinkers in India and the West.

The author of books such as Academic HinduphobiaThe Battle for SanskritIndra’s Net and Breaking India has, however, been accused of plagiarism.

His claims of original research came under question in 2015, when historian Richard Fox Young accused him of repeatedly failing to acknowledge sources.

According to a report on Scroll, Malhotra did not deny the charges, but said the academic standards demanded by Young were too high.

Known to be close to the RSS leadership, the US-based Hindu ideologue heads Infinity Foundation, which claims to be working on the broad fields of “wisdom and compassion”.


Also read: What sedition headlines don’t tell you about JNU: It’s a leader in science research


‘Hindu warrior’

Malhotra has garnered a massive online following by professing to be a proud Hindu warrior. He has 1.78 lakh followers on Twitter and 6 million likes on his official Facebook page.

He upholds what he claims is Bharatiya sanskriti, questions other religions and liberals, vociferously supports the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and takes on anyone disagreeing with him. His tweets can be acerbic and contain loaded reports posted by little-known websites.

He reserves special contempt for those on the Left and foreign historians such as Wendy Doniger, whom he accuses of viewing Indian culture with a “Marxist and leftist lens”.

His online presence, however, had led him to be mired in one row after the other. During the Kerala floods, he tweeted communally charged content.

“Please donate to help Kerala Hindus. Christians & Muslims worldwide are raising lots of money to help mainly their own people and agendas,” he had tweeted, before deleting his tweet.

A picture retweeted by him stated that of the about 25 lakh temples in India, men were not allowed in six and women in five. Pegged on the Sabarimala row, the post sought to question why some “intellectuals” had no issue with the fact that over 3 lakh mosques did not allow a single woman inside.

ThePrint could not independently verify the claim or the figures cited.

In one of his lectures, uploaded on his official website, Malhotra talks of how school textbooks and the education system in India are filled with ‘anti-India’ content.

“Even the UPSC exam is full of hatred against India,” he says in the video. “People are attacked in academic circles if they go out and talk about Vedas. Go to IIT-Madras, it’s very difficult to say there is no separate Dravidism.”

He adds, “Colonisers did not want us to read Arthashastra and our own Vedic texts. We were not taught political thought, because had we been taught we would have revolted.”


Also read: Diktat for teachers at central universities like JNU & DU: Can’t criticise govt


‘Another nail in the coffin of Indian higher education’

His appointment as an honorary professor at JNU’s Centre for Media Studies has triggered criticism.

Author and Indologist Audrey Truschke, the assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University, US, tweeted, “Another nail in the coffin of Indian higher education: Hindutva ideologue Rajiv Malhotra – a hate monger, plagiarist, without academic credentials, best known for his identity-fueled attacks on scholars – has been appointed an honorary professor at JNU.”

In a series of tweets, she pointed out instances where Malhotra quoted the satire portal The Onion as a legitimate source of news, including to claim that western historians had admitted that the Greek civilisation was fabricated.

“This shows the low intellectual level that we have come to,” journalist and columnist Tavleen Singh tweeted on his appointment. “I was once persuaded briefly that Malhotra was a serious scholar. In fact he is a pamphleteer who would not be considered a scholar except in India. Bad luck JNU.”

Historian S. Irfan Habib said JNU “didn’t deserve this insult”.

“A pretender, a plagiarist and Hindutva proponent Rajiv Malhotra appointed honorary visiting professor at JNU,” he tweeted.

Malhotra subsequently challenged his critics to an open debate. “I challenge Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar, Wendy Doniger, Sheldon Pollock, @Ram_Guha to have an open conversation on camera where we can share, agree, disagree freely,” he tweeted.

The Malhotra fans

For all the flak he receives, Malhotra has his backers in the Indian Right.

Retired Army officer Major General G.D. Bakshi is often found praising Malhotra. In a recent tweet, Bakshi shared a link of Malhotra’s speech at India Gate during the 75th anniversary of the Azad Hind government.

“An excellent and succinct speech By Rajiv Malhotra on the eve of the…,” Bakshi tweeted.

Vivek Agnihotri, the filmmaker who courted controversy because of his book Urban Naxals, expressed happiness over the appointment.

“The entire ecosystem of bigots is rattled with the appointment of @RajivMessage and that indeed is the best news today. Congrats Rajivji,” Vivek Agnihotri tweeted after Malhotra announced his appointment.

Malhotra also has a separate twitter handle called Rajiv Malhotra fans.

JNU refuses to comment

Officials at JNU refused to comment on Malhotra’s appointment. Calls to the head of department, Centre of Media Studies, Heeraman Tiwari, went unanswered.

But the university rules say that a person appointed honorary professor “should be a scholar of nationally and internationally recognised eminence and his or her contribution should have made a difference to the discipline or to society”.

Approval of at least four experts in the field that the person is going to teach in is important for the appointment. Once approved, the name is sent to the executive council for approval.

In Malhotra’s case, however, members of the council told ThePrint they were not aware of the appointment.

Some students said Malhotra’s appointment was one of the many vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar was making in keeping with “his whims and fancies”.

“Malhotra is accused of plagiarism, it is such a big charge,” said JNUSU president N. Sai Balaji.

“How can the university appoint someone facing that kind of charge as an honorary professor? It is clearly the administration’s agenda to bring people from a certain ideology into the university.

15 Comments Share Your Views

15 COMMENTS

  1. Why is the left-lib-secular lobby of self proclaimed intellectuals & so called scholars& academicians so scared of a co-professor from Princeton University ?
    Is it not the same kind of intolerance which this very cabal blamed Modi Govt of ?

  2. This article is the testament to the kind of propaganda that journalists resort to defending their own political bias/agenda/leanings. So in absolute terms there is no mention of what Rajiv’s accomplishments are or how it impacted or what the outcomes were. This is how the propaganda works –
    1. Have 3 hate mongers such as Audrey or another communist or Hindu Phobic tweet against a Hindu professor
    2. Gather those 3 personal opinions and weave a story to discredit, defame
    All this because he is a proponent of Hindu Dharma. Given this toxic attitude, is freedom of press, speech without limits suitable for India

  3. On the one hand Malhotra says in that video that Bill Gates is doing lot of philanthropy so that he will go to heaven, and on the other he says that Gates might be born a poor man in next birth. So, is Poverty God’s Reward for Kindness? Whichever way, by hook or by crook, Malhotra is desperate that rich people like Bill Gates should park some of their big money with him. The perennial Hindu brahminical greed is on naked display.

    Now this joker is a Professor at JNU. Thanks, I guess, to its vice chancellor Jaghadish Kumar, who wanted to station an unfunctional army tank on the premises to MOTIVATE students! So, by freakish logic as displayed by Malhotra in that video:

    Malhotra = unfunctional army tank

    Bhai wah! Bhai wah!! Jawahar Lal Nehru zindabad zindabad.

  4. Some commentators seem to suggest that Rajiv Malhotra has some “achievements” to his credit. I’m not aware of any. All he has done is to discredit India and science.

    His theories about history are false, his gullibility for cheap magic tricks performed in the name of religion is amazing (the man has no rational sense whatsoever), his war against free speech and gloating when Wendy Doniger’s book was pulped brings great shame to India – he fights against free speech even as he sits in USA, the bastion of free speech. That he is a petty plagiarist is yet another issue.

    Overall, a very sorry figure who brings great shame to all of us.

    Btw, he doesn’t know the basics of economics and supports ultra-socialist outfits like BJP. I’ve provided some comments on Quora and also on my blog.

  5. Snjeev Sablok and authors of this article: It’s a pity for the readers that you wrote a whole big article about a person without knowing much about him and his work. This is not a journalism.
    The Print: We already have NDTV and Indian Express. Why did you come up with another mumbo-jumbo, biassed propaganda website called news

  6. These so called (pseudo) liberals and intellectuals in India gets angry when anybody opposes their view in a strong manner. These people then try to harm image of that person with false allegations. This is what now being done with Rajiv Malhotra. My question to the Print is ‘if Rajiv has plagurised then why American publishing house did not sue him ? ‘ so these Americans are not interested in IPR but their intention is to harm image of Rajiv Malhotra. Read the following article it will clRify your doubts https://www.firstpost.com/ideas/wendys-revenge-plagiarism-charge-rajiv-malhotra-red-herring-2349804.html

  7. This is called as Presstitutes art of writing on social issue.
    Article clearly posted to defame the person.
    Shame on you

  8. Today I received a “copyright strike” from Rajiv Malhotra’s Infinity Foundation.  Youtube is also forcing me to take a “copyright school”. This video is now no longer available through this post, either.

    Such mortal fear the man has of what he himself said becoming known to the rest of the world. Fear of free speech, fear of his own speech.

    The video was not made by Rajiv Malhotra or his Infinity Foundations – it was made at a Nityananda event – noting that Nityananda’s videos are widely available on the internet and as a “guru” it is in his interest to circulate his videos widely.

    Does this mean the video will now disappear from the internet? Of course not. Surely someone has a copy somewhere. This kind of behaviour – hiding from what he himself said – is further confirmation to me that the man has extremely low morals. Great shame he brings to India.

  9. And in fact, now that Rajiv Malhotra is occupying a formal role in a government funded institute (JNU) it is crucial that students and faculty alike all over the world are aware of his antics. It is crucial that this video be made widely available in the public interest.

  10. Fortunately, it turns out that this video is actually still widely available – directly on the Nithayananda youtube channel. The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0JftnvuwSU – start from roughly 2 hours 7 minutes 50 seconds up to 2 hours 13 minutes 45 seconds. I suggest the main article replace with the following embedding code:

    It remains a matter of considerable shame that a “Professor” of JNU not only believes all kinds of unscientific nonsense, but is willing to propound a “business” based on such ideas. And on top of even though he is NOT the copyright owner of this video (which belongs to Nithyananda) he has falsely lodged a copyright claim to this video.

    Plagiarism, celebrating anti-free speech provisions in India’s laws (Wendy Doniger book pulping), propounding unscientific nonsense, and making false claims about copyright. Such is the “great” man now being honoured by JNU.

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