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Chetan Bhagat in DU Syllabus: Students Debate, Speculate & Groan

What do students have to say about news of Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’ being included in the DU syllabus?

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There may still not be any confirmation on whether Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling novel, ‘Five Point Someone’, will make it to Delhi University’s syllabus or not, but the news sure has sparked a debate among DU students and faculty members.

If Bhagat’s novel makes the cut this year, it will be a part of the ‘Popular Fiction’ section of the General Elective course under the Choice-Based Credit System. This means that Bhagat’s writing will be taught to students, alongside work from authors like Agatha Christie, Louisa M Alcott and JK Rowling, to name a few.

Students and faculty members appear divided on the proposal to include Bhagat in the syllabus. Some appreciated the inclusion, and dubbed it a “wise move” that would help students learn between good and bad writing.

Some said it was an unnecessary development. Others suspected a political motive behind the move, and alleged that the proposal to include Bhagat’s novel was a result of his proximity with the ruling government. Here’s what students had to say:

‘Scared of Radical Changes in Syllabus’

“As literature students we learn the art of critical analysis. Studying the social, political and psychological undertones of a text,” says Ishita Chowdhury, a student of St Stephen’s College.

Today, the fact that DU is even ‘considering’ to include Chetan Bhagat; introduces a new phase of literature, to critically analyse utter nonsense. When I initially got to know about this issue, I thought my friend was joking. The reality of the situation makes me scared about the radical changes in our syllabus. Next we know we might have to study Twinkle Khanna’s ‘Funny Bones’.  
Ishita Chowdhury, Student, St Stephen’s College 
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‘Leaves a False Impression of Literature’

“Bringing texts like these into mainstream syllabus, taught to non-honours courses, leaves a false impression of literature in the minds of students who are not doing their majors in English literature,” says Nandini Chauhan, a student of SGBT Khalsa College.

It is rather disheartening to see that quality of education in one of India’s topmost universities is deteriorating with the inclusion of shoddily written books like that of Chetan Bhagat’s in the name of ‘Popular Literature’. His books have always been criticised among academic circles for not having a meaningful plot or depth of characters. 
Nandini Chauhan, Student, SGBT Khalsa College

‘The Need Is for Responsible Criticism’

“The inclusion of Chetan Bhagat within the DU syllabus while a controversial decision, can be retrospectively justified. He is, for better or worse, a massively popular author. The moment DU allows for a break from ‘canon’ and forays into the dominion of the ‘popular’, it cannot put a premium on the categorical definition,”says Rachel John, a student of St Stephen’s College.

his books do entail extremely problematic elements, ultimately the idea is to analyse how and why do these problematic stances translate into the popular medium. Denying this attaches a sort of elitism to the study of literature and its contents. Ultimately, the need is for responsible criticism.
Rachel John, Student, St Stephen’s College
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‘Judgment Comes From the Reader’

Paribhasha Yadav, a student of Hindu College, said that it was important to allow the reader to judge the quality of literature for themselves.

I believe it is important for us to understand that the judgement on what is good literature and what is not, should come only and only from the reader. And one of the most crucial aspects of literature is to give us an understanding of the functioning of the society. So, it is totally alright for the students to read a kind of literature that has (arguably enough) appealed to more people of the middle and lower middle class, than any other literature in India has. And then it totally depends on the students what they derive out of it and what they don’t.
Paribhasha Yadav, Student, Hindu College

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