Published: 26th July 2019
Godhra, gender fluidity content cut: DU's English Dept sees nothing wrong with the syllabus, passes it unanimously
The EC had demanded a total of 26 changes that the English department had earlier called absurd and irrational, but has now passed it with the external faculty even commending the content
The English Department of the Delhi University unanimously passed the undergraduate syllabus without any further changes by the Committee of Courses after the Executive Committee had sent back the proposed syllabus with 26 points they wanted to be changed. External experts, Dr Anup Singh Beniwal. the former VC and Dean of Humanities of GGSIP University and Dr Mukesh Ranjan from the Jamia Milia Islamia University vetted the syllabus and praised its academic merits. They found nothing wrong with the syllabus. A council from the Faculty of Arts will decide on the fate of the syllabus on Friday.
What's in, what's out
The oversight committee set up by the EC meeting has demanded that the English, History, Political Science and Sociology syllabi undergo another round of statutory review before being placed for reconsideration. "The Faculty of Arts will have to deliberate on the merits of the syllabus all over again," said sources from the department. "In the Indian Writing section, we are being asked to replace Amitav Ghosh's The Shadowlines with RK Narayan's Swami and Friends, Meena Kandaswamy's Touch with Premchand's The Shroud. We had to point out that Amitav Ghosh has just won the Gyanpith Puraskar and bears more contemporary relevance. Also, that Premchand is not an Indian English author. His work is already there in the Modern Indian Writing in Translation paper," the source added.
The Delhi University has still not decided whether to scrap the proposed revamped syllabi for the English, Political Science, History and Sociology or to implement it. The EC had sent back the curriculum for further review under the supervision of an oversight committee and resubmission by the end of the month.
'Which syllabus do we follow?'
"We do not know what they expect us to do. We had made the changes that we could and then sent it back once. What they want from us is not clear yet," said Saikat Ghosh, a member of the Standing Committee, Academic Council and an Assistant Professor of English. "We are confused as to which syllabus to follow or what to teach the students. We will have a departmental meeting today to understand our role in this review. We have already removed what they wanted us to but we cannot entertain any further absurd modifications," he added.
The English department had already dropped 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 Shiva 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.