On July 21st, The Economist published an article, Kashmir’s future: Fleeting chance, in which the reporter referred to the Hindu pilgrimage site of Amarnath Caves, as “a penis shaped lump of ice.” After several back and forth correspondences with the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the editor stated that no offense was intended, but has failed to rectify the offense he has nonetheless caused. All it would take is the simple corrective measure of replacing his poorly chosen terminology in all online versions of the article and in the next print edition of The Economist -- unfortunately the magazine has refused. Click here to see HAF’s correspondences.
As the largest Hindu advocacy organization in the U.S. and after receiving a flurry of inquiries from its membership with hopes to see results, HAF would like to provide for those members a channel through which to express their sentiments on what is a serious misrepresentation coming from a magazine with The Economist's prestige and popularity among so many in India and in the diaspora.
Tell The Economist to replace the offensive terminology with more appropriate and respectful language by signing this petition right now.
It is true that among the many interpretations available of the Lingam, a phallic representation (not “penis”) symbolizing the male creative energy of the Universe is mentioned. However, a much more relevant and widely held understanding is that the Lingam represents the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.”# It is the latter definition that inspires a billion Hindus worldwide, and the hundreds of thousands of devout pilgrims that brave Pakistani ISI-inspired terrorist threats to visit a naturally formed Lingam in India’s Kashmir valley. But regardless of which definition the editors privilege at The Economist, writing “penis-shaped lump of ice” to refer to one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus is disrespectful and insulting.
A major publication such as The Economist carries a special responsibility of dealing with that which is held sacred with dignity and proper consideration of the emic understanding of symbolism and iconography. It is my sincere hope that The Economist will abide by this sincere request of publishing a clarification regarding the Hindu view of the Amarnath shrine to your readers.