After receiving flak from students and experts over dropping feminist texts, two of which are of Dalit authors, Delhi University (DU) released an official statement that said, “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”.
What Are The Texts That Were Dropped?
DU dropped texts written by two famous Dalit authors from its English honors syllabus. One of the authors is Bama Faustina Soosairaj – a Tamil Dalit feminist who’s also a teacher and novelist.
The other author whose work has been excluded is Sukirtharani. Sukirtharani is a feminist poet who is famous for her contribution to contemporary Dalit and Tamil literature.
But this is not all. Mahasweta Devi’s ‘Draupadi’, a short story about a tribal woman was also dropped from the syllabus.
The fact that all the three texts are of women feminist writers who strive to tell the tales of the marginalised did not sit well with most people and the Oversight Committee who made the decision of the changes received strong opposing reactions.
Read More: After receiving flak from students and experts over dropping feminist texts, two of which are of Dalit authors, Delhi University
The Reaction Of The Academic Council
The decision of the Oversight Committee enraged and aroused dissent among the students and various education experts. People protested against the ‘overreach of the Oversight Committee’ and claimed that the committee had ‘arbitrarily’ removed the writings.
The Academic Council in their meeting expressed strong objection to the Oversight Committee for ‘arbitrarily changing the texts’ in the new undergraduate LOCF syllabi of the fifth semester, without involving the ‘statutory bodies like faculties, committees of courses and standing committee’ in the decision-making process.
The issue was numbered at 9.14 in their agenda list for the meeting and to address it, a dissent note was issued by 15 members of the council.
It reads, “In a core paper titled Women’s writing in semester V, the oversight committee has committed the maximum vandalism. It first decided to remove two Dalit writers, namely Bama and Sukarttharini who were replaced by a UC writer Ramabai”.
Addressing the removal of ‘Draupadi’ that has been a part of the syllabus since as back as 1999 due to its literary and academic value, the note stated, “The committee as an afterthought suddenly asked the English department to delete the celebrated short story of Mahasweta Devi, ‘Darupadi’, which is a story about a tribal woman without giving any academic logic to the decision”.
The Oversight Committee had further butchered the syllabus by replacing the feminist reading of Ramayana called Chandrabati Ramayana with Tulsidas in a DSE paper of ‘Pre-colonial Indian Literatures’.
Eminent members of the Academic Council like Mithuraaj Dhusiya, Rajesh Kumar, Biswajit Mohanty, Sunil Kumar, Chandra Mohan expressed how vehemently they disapprove of the Committee excluding and deleting texts that talk about casteism and patriarchy.
They said in the note, “It is unfortunate that the Oversight Committee has always shown a prejudice against the representation of Dalits, tribals, women, and sexual minorities as evident in its concerted efforts to remove all such voices from the syllabus.”
Knowledge is power. And at a time of such national conflict on different fronts, the most harmful thing that can be done to the students is depriving them of the awareness that education brings about the vices of society.
So needless to say, the Oversight Committee’s action made people from different spheres lose their calm.
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