Published: 20th July 2019
DU curriculum row: Revision Committee sends back 'absurd' modifications to English syllabus
Teachers alleged that the NDTF and ABVP have tried to scuttle the English syllabus and the outcome was evident the day of the AC meeting
Delhi University's new English syllabus, that the teachers claimed would meet global standards, might not see the light of the day. Saikat Ghosh, a member of the Standing Committee, Academic Council and an Assistant Professor of English who was an integral part of framing the syllabus said that the Delhi University's Undergraduate Curriculum Revision Committee (UGCRC) has sent another long list of "further required modifications" to the English Department and he is not too optimistic about the Executive Committee's verdict.
"Despite complying with all the syllabus modifications required by the UGCRC, and removing the texts that the National Democratic Teachers' Front (NDTF) had raised objections to, the UGCRC has yet again sent a long list of modifications to the English Department," said Saikat. "These required modifications are all absurd and listed in order to make a mockery of the efforts of teachers, from around 50 DU colleges, who have worked hard for two years with the hope that the university will eventually be able to give its English students a syllabus that is genuinely at par with the best in the world," he added.
The professor alleged that the NDTF and ABVP have tried to scuttle the English syllabus, "Despite the fabulous feedback the syllabus has received from students, alumni and academicians across the globe. The NDTF and ABVP may be successful in their nefarious agenda tomorrow because they are more powerful than the university. The University is following their diktats."
Saikat added that this possible outcome was clear the day the ABVP had attacked the Council Hall and Vice Regal Lodge while the AC meeting was on. "The VC ignored professors' pleas for security and tried to pretend as if nothing was happening. His connivance with the bullies who wish to run this university through political diktats is absolutely and clearly evident," he said.
The English syllabus had to drop the most controversial and debated short story "Maniben alias Bibijaan" by Shilpa Paralkar that spoke about a Hindu woman's connection with a Muslim man in the backdrop of the Godhra riots of 2002 and hinted that a character — a member of the Bajrang Dal — was associated with looting and burning an old Muslim man alive with his granddaughter. "We also had to drop an essay by Mukul Kesavan on a politically empowering government, Neha Dixit's award-winning reportage on mob-lynching. We had to get rid of all reference to Indian deities when it came to the section of the syllabus on Interrogating queerness — we are only trying to make the students engage with gender beyond the binary and we have had that in Indic civilisation since ancient times. The Ardha-Nariswar avatar of Shiv is the best example of gender fluidity," said Saikat. "But they did not accept the argument and alleged that Shiva is being held up as the symbol for the LGBTQ community. I think why they are actually riled up is because they do not have many RSS minded people in the English departments to have adequate representation to influence the syllabus," he added.
It was not just the English syllabus that the Academic Council had sent back for review — the History department let go of the history of the Left movement in India, the Political Science department scrapped the writings of Dr Nandini Sundar with references to the agrarian crisis and Maoists which has come up a second time after it was recommended to be dropped last year.