Delhi University on Thursday, 26 August, said that its present syllabus for BA English Honours course is 'inclusive' and called issues highlighted by 'a section of the media' regarding the said content 'misplaced and unfounded'.
This comes after the university came under fire for removing Mahasweta Devi's seminal short story Draupadi from the said course of the University of Delhi on Tuesday. The works of two other Dalit women writers, Sukirtharini and Bama, have also been dropped from the syllabus by DU's Oversight Committee (OC).
Outrage Over Dropping of Texts
The elimination of Draupadi, which had been taught as part of the Women's Writing paper in the fifth semester, was met with strong opposition from at least 14 members of the DU Academic Council (AC).
“We strongly protest against the overreach of the Oversight Committee which arbitrarily changed texts in the new undergraduate Learning Outcomes based Curriculum Framework (LOCF) syllabi of the fifth semester, bypassing the statutory bodies like Faculties, Committee of Courses and Standing Committee,” Mithuraaj Dhusiya, an AC member, was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
In addition, the AC also approved the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) from 2022-2023 onwards, a decision which was reportedly taken without adequate discussion.
'No Substantial Discussion' on Implementation of the NEP
AC member Mithuraaj Dhusiya stated that “no substantial discussion” had been permitted within the council on various aspects of NEP, including the matter of the four-year undergraduate programmes (FYUP) with multiple entry-exit scheme (MEES).
“No voting was allowed and the elected members were asked to deposit dissent notes. This is subversion of statutory processes. Discussion in the Standing Committee, with 27 members, is not the same as discussion in the Academic Council with over 100 members. This shows that DU administration lacks confidence in the FYUP model and is avoiding addressing important issues.”AC Member Mithuraaj Dhusiya, as quoted by PTI
Sixteen AC members have opposed the implementation of NEP – FYUP with MEES, PTI reported. The members submitted a dissent note on the matter, stating that that DU had not taken into account the feedback of the stakeholders and the members relevant statutory bodies on the new policy.
Delhi University Reacts to Flak
In a press release issued on Thursday, Delhi University (DU) Registrar Vikas Gupta said that the flak is 'misplaced' because the syllabus of the course "has been passed through a democratic process with the involvement of all stakeholders and necessary deliberations at appropriate forums".
“A careful perusal of the present syllabus clearly 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 as, according to the University, excellence in academia is not subservient to these attributes,” the press release Gupta.
Gupta added that literary texts being taught as part of the syllabus should have material that ensure that they do not "hurt the sentiments of any individual” and that they are "inclusive in nature to portray a true picture of our society”.
"Such an inclusive approach is important for the young minds who imbibe 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,” he added.
'Silencing of Dalit, Female, Tribal Voices': Twitter Reacts to the Syllabus Change
Several netizens took to Twitter to articulate their outrage over DU's dropping of the stories of Mahasweta Devi and others who wrote for the marginalised communities from its curriculum.
(With inputs from PTI)