DU Academic Council asks VC to ban Kancha Ilaiah’s books

October 29, 2018

Members of the Delhi University’s academic council have written to the vice-chancellor expressing their dismay on a varsity panel recommendation for removal of Dalit writer-activist Kancha Illaiah’s books from the institution’s political science syllabus over their “controversial content”.

DU’s standing committee on academic matters had also recommended replacement of the word ‘dalit’ from academic discourse with ‘scheduled caste’. The committee had also recommended for the removal of Illaiah’s three books from the masters course in political science. These recommendations will be discussed at the academic council meeting likely to be held next month.

“We also hope that the University of Delhi will issue an official apology to Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd while immediately withdrawing the slander (attributed to the Standing Committee constituted by the University of Delhi) against him that has unfortunately been put on record in the public domain,” the letter said.

The letter also stated that the standing committee had earlier recommended removal of Prof Archana Prasad and Prof Nandini Sundar’s works from the MA History syllabus.

The term ‘dalit’ is widely used in academic discourse, the letter said, adding that it is an acceptable coinage, as can be evidenced from the widespread use of categories like ‘dalit movements’, ‘dalit assertion’, ‘dalit political philosophy’, ‘dalit literature’, ‘dalit poetics’ etc.

“The standing committee has been wilfully misled into believing that the Supreme Court has proscribed the use of the term. In fact, the Supreme Court has directed public institutions to use the terms ‘scheduled castes’ and ‘scheduled tribes’ instead of the terms ‘Dalit’ and ‘Adivasi’ in official correspondence pertaining to the government policy as the former terms are strictly juridico-legal in nature whereas the latter terms are political and cultural,” the letter said.

The letter also said Ilaiah’s intellectual accomplishments need no certificate of merit from the varsity.

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