Amid criticism over dropping of Mahasweta Devi’s short story ‘Draupadi’ and the removal of two Dalit authors from the English (H) syllabus, Delhi University on Thursday said the changes to the syllabus have been passed through a democratic process with the involvement of all stakeholders.
It said that a careful perusal of the present syllabus brings out the “inclusive nature of the syllabus”.
The university, in a statement, also called issues highlighted by a section of the media regarding the content of the syllabus “misplaced and unfounded”.
Criticising the university’s statement, three members of the Delhi University Academic Council and the Delhi University Teachers’ Association slammed the university and accused the administration of being “complicit in the unethical and the unacademic chopping of authors”.
The Academic Council on Tuesday had dropped the celebrated short story and the two Dalit authors from BA (Hons) English course while approving changes in its syllabus on recommendations from the Oversight Committee. Some members of the council had strongly opposed the move.
Delhi University, in the statement issued on Thursday, said it has accepted the recommendations of the Oversight Committee with respect to the syllabus of BA (Hons) English course for Semester.
“Some issues highlighted by a section of the media regarding the content of the syllabus are misplaced and unfounded as the syllabus of the course has been passed through a democratic process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders and necessary deliberations at appropriate forums The final content of the syllabus has been designed by the Department of English,” it said.
It said the Oversight Committee, constituted by the Executive Council of the university, after due deliberations with and recommendations of the Head, Department of English, finalised the syllabus of the course.
The university stated that a careful perusal of the present syllabus 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.
“The university subscribes to the idea that the literary content forming part of the text in a language course of study should contain materials which do not hurt the sentiments of any individual and are inclusive in nature to portray a true picture of our society , both past and present, the statement read.
“Such an inclusive approach is important for the young minds who imbibe the content of the teaching learning emanating from the syllabus in letter and spirit. Therefore , the content of the syllabus depicts the idea of inclusiveness, diversity and harmony,” it added.
Abha Dev Habib, DUTA treasurer, claimed the university’s statement is ample evidence of the fact that the administration is complicit in the unethical and unacademic chopping of authors like Mahasweta Devi from the BA (H) English syllabus”.
“The university has completely abdicated its responsibility towards upholding academic freedom and critical rigour in higher education in the name of ‘hurt sentiments’,” she said.
The Oversight Committee was constituted in 2019 when the ABVP tried to vandalise the Academic Council meeting and threatened Heads of Departments of English and History and many elected Academic Council members, she said.
“It is a matter of extreme shame and concern that the Oversight Committee composed of ‘senior academics’ has become an instrument to impose censorship on courses and readings as per the diktat of RSS-BJP,” the DUTA treasurer said.
The three academic council members — Rajesh Kumar, Biswajit Mohanty and Mithuraaj Dhusiya — called the university statement malafide and a “desperate attempt to save face after committing a grave overreach of intruding in the academic autonomy of the departments”.
“It merely suggests that the university administration is complicit in the unacademic exercise of deletion of texts without the consent of the Committee of Courses which is the only competent authority to do so,” the three members said in a joint statement.
Calling the university’s statement “utterly false” and “misleading”, they said the Oversight Committee was conspicuous by its undemocratic decision-making of issuing fiats to the English Department without giving any academic rationale”.News, States