Published: 27th August 2021
DU defends removal of works by dalit writers, Mahashweta Devi from syllabus; academicians slam the administration
Fifteen members of the University's academic council had on Wednesday submitted a strong dissenting note to the university administration calling these changes as arbitrary and 'casteist'.
A day after a controversy erupted over the dropping of works by two dalit writers and a short story by Mahashweta Devi from its English syllabus, the Delhi University administration insisted that the criticism was "misplaced and unfounded". DU's oversight committee had removed two dalit feminist writers - Bama and Sukhirtharini - from the women's writing course and dropped a highly acclaimed short story Draupadi by Mahashweta Devi, about the life of a tribal woman from BA (H) English syllabus.
Fifteen members of the University's academic council had on Wednesday submitted a strong dissenting note to the university administration calling these changes as arbitrary and "casteist". "A careful perusal of the present syllabus clearly brings out the inclusive nature of the syllabus under reference in terms of its diversity of content and inclusion of pioneering works of various renowned scholars of both national and international fame without consideration of their religion, caste and creed as, according to the University, excellence in academia is not subservient to these attributes," said a DU statement, undersigned by its registrar Vikas Gupta.
Following the statement, Abha Dev Habib, treasurer of the Delhi University Teachers' Association said that the release in defence of the oversight committee is ample evidence of the fact that the administration is complicit in the unethical and the unacademic chopping of authors. "It is a matter of extreme shame and concern that the Oversight Committee comprising of senior academics has become an instrument to impose censorship on courses and readings as per the diktat of RSS-BJP," she said.
Three other members of the academic council too issued a statement underling that the classroom space should be sensitive to the social, economic and cultural diversity from where students come and that includes having a curriculum which must give representation to the marginal voices of the society. "The blatant defence of the oversight committee by the university administration through its press release shows that the University of Delhi has forgotten its primary commitment to the inclusive character of the public funded education system," they said.