Published: 13th November 2020
ABVP to form committee to scrutinise university syllabi for 'anti-national' content, after getting Arundhati Roy's book removed from TN varsity
Recently, Tamil Nadu's Manonmaniam Sundaranar University had removed a book written by Arundhati Roy from its syllabus for postgraduate English Literature course, after the ABVP's complaint
The syllabi in all the Tamil Nadu state universities may soon be scrutinised by a committee of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, in an attempt to identify and exclude 'anti-national content'. This was conveyed to EdexLive by the ABVP Tamil Nadu State Organising Secretary L Muthuramalingam. "We are now creating a committee of professors in ABVP to revise the syllabi in all the universities. We need to ensure that books that are taught to students do not create any societal issues," he says.
Recently, Tamil Nadu's Manonmaniam Sundaranar University had removed a book written by Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy from its syllabus for postgraduate English Literature course, after the ABVP's complaint. The removal of the book Walking With The Comrades stirred up a row. It had been part of the MA English syllabus for the past 3 years.
"This book is one that openly supports the dangerously revolutionary thoughts of anti-nationals like Maoists. It saddens us that this book has been part of the syllabus for the past three years," read the complaint sent by the ABVP to the VC of MSU. "Through this, the thoughts and ideologies of Naxals and Maoists have been directly forced upon students for three years. As this book has the potential to create anger against the country in the hearts of our students, they would have been affected. We condemn the university for allowing this," it further says.
Muthuramalingam says that he was 'shocked' that the VC did not know of the book and its contents. "The book was being taught in the university since 2017. Thousands of students learned this anti-national content for all these years. We are shocked that this did not catch the Vice Chancellor's attention," he says. He says that a few students who studied the course had brought the matter to the organisation's attention.
"We were quick to draft a petition and submit it to the Vice Chancellor. He took our demands into consideration. He formed a committee in the next two days, which researched the content and excluded it from the syllabus," he says. Previously the same university had excluded a portion from a book titled Nonbu from its syllabus. "That book was highly problematic too," says Muthuramalingam.
At the same time, he says that the ABVP has no qualms in universities teaching Marxism. "It is essential to study Marxism in Political Science. But this book by Roy spoke ill of the Indian Army," he says. The removal of the book was criticised by a lot of politicians from the opposition. Commenting on this, VCK MP Thol Thirumavalavan tweeted, "The Tamil Nadu government should not support such an anti-social conspiracy by the communalists to nationalise educational institutions." Angered by this, Muthuramalingam says, "Why do they have to politicise everything? This is a students' issue and let student bodies comment on this."
Responding to this, Roy had said in a statement that the decision wasn't surprising at all. "When I heard of the University’s decision to remove my book from its curriculum following threats and pressure from the ABVP, oddly enough I was more happy than sad because I had no idea that it was in the curriculum in the first place. I am glad it has been taught for several years," she said.