Row over removal of works by two dalit writers, Mahashweta Devi from Delhi University syllabus

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By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A group of Delhi University teacher, all members of the academic council, have strongly protested against the dropping the works of two dalit writers and a Mahashweta Devi’s short story “Draupadi” by the Oversight committee from the English syllabus.

The two dalit writers whose works have been removed from semester V syllabus include Tamil author Bama and Telugu writer Sukhartharini. Their works have been replaced with “upper caste writer Ramabai”, 15 members of the council have said in a dissent note.

The changes have been made as part of the learning outcomes based curriculum as part of the new National Education Policy implementation. 

“The Committee as an afterthought suddenly asked the English department to delete the celebrated short story of Mahasweta Devi, ‘Draupadi’ – a story about a tribal woman – without giving any academic logic,” the note shared in the academic council meeting on Wednesday also said.

“This is notwithstanding the fact that ‘Draupadi’ has been taught by the University of Delhi since 1999 owing to its seminal academic value,” they said.

Talking to this newspaper, one of the protesting members, Biswajeet Mohanty, associate professor of Political Science at the Deshbandhu College said that the act was “deplorable and reeked of a deliberate attempt to further a particular kind of ideology.”

“Not only is it reflective of the ruling class mentality but is a larger reflection of attempts to not recognise the dalit consciousness and prevent all class of students students from going though their work,” he said.

Rudrashish Chakraborty of the Kirorimal College, another signatory in the note said that the oversight committee is guilty of not only undermining the laid down academic processes of the University, they have also abdicated their responsibility towards the students by delaying the notification of the syllabus in every semester.

Marginal voices, he said, have deliberately been removed from the syllabus.

“It is unbecoming of a University having stature like DU to notify the syllabus 5 weeks after the commencement of the semester. The fact that students and teachers don’t know which texts to study or teach speak volumes about the academic apathy and the irresponsibility of the Oversight Committee towards the teaching-learning process.”

Chakraborty added, “Coupled with this is the overreach of the arbitrary addition/deletion of texts without the consent of the committee of courses — the only statutory body to frame the syllabus.”

Oversight committee chairman Maharaj Pandit was not available for comments despite attempts to reach him.



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