DU Says Syllabus Still Inclusive, Faculty Alleges Undemocratic Removal of Feminist, Dalit Text

The University of Delhi administration and Academic Council (AC) are at loggerheads on the issue of dropping texts written by Dalit writers and feminist adaptation of Ramayana. While the Academic Council says the administration has not consulted with the concerned authority before taking the decision, the university has issued a statement saying, “the course has been passed through a democratic process with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.”

The varsity further said that the oversight committee constituted by the executive council finalised the syllabus only after due consultation. The varsity says its syllabus is “inclusive” and has “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.” It added, that literary content should have “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”. It said the new syllabus depicts the “idea of inclusiveness, diversity, and harmony.”

The Academic Council members have opposed the varsity’s move. They claim that the statement by the University is “a desperate attempt to save face…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”.

While the university administration said that the final decision was taken after consultation with the department of English, teachers alleged that the “oversight committee was conspicuous by its undemocratic decision-making of issuing fiats to the English department without giving any academic rationale.” They further said that “instead of examining the rationale of the texts included in the syllabus, merely pandered to the political pressures and vested interests”.

“It’s universally recognised by the Universities across the world 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,” said dissent note by the academic council members. The dissent note is signed by 15 elected AC members across political groups.

The varsity removed Mahasweta Devi’s “Draupadi”, a story about a tribal woman as well as writings of two Dalit authors Bama Faustina Soosairaj – a Tamil Dalit feminist, teacher and novelist and Sukirtharani, a feminist poet known for her contribution to contemporary Dalit and Tamil literature.

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