Arundhati Roy’s book Walking with the Comrades has been withdrawn from the postgraduate English syllabus of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. The move came following complaints by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated student group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Roy’s book, based on the face-off between Maoists and the Indian government, has been replaced with essays from naturalist M Krishnan’s My Native Land: Essays on Nature.
Arundhati Roy’s Book Withdrawn From Syllabus
As per a Hindustan Times report, Walking with the Comrades was published in 2011 and had been prescribed for students studying in the third semester of MA English, under Commonwealth Writing, at the university since 2017. The book is based on Roy’s visit to Maoist hideouts. The ABVP raised objections against the teaching of the book citing its “anti-national subject.” Gopi Gangadaran, a part of the ABVP’s Tirunelveli unit, said, “About 10 days ago, the university’s postgraduate literature students brought this issue to us and we found controversial topics in the book.”
Consequently, the ABVP's members met the university’s vice-chancellor K Pichumani a week ago and submitted a memorandum that mentioned that they will bring up the matter before the Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Ministry of Education) and organise several large protests if there is any delay in withdrawing the book. Following this, a committee was formed to deliberate upon the issue which concluded that the book should be removed from the varsity’s syllabus.
What You Should Know:
- Arundhati Roy’s book Walking with the Comrades has been withdrawn from English syllabus of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli.
- The decision was taken following complaints by the ABVP.
- It has been replaced with essays from naturalist M Krishnan’s My Native Land: Essays on Nature.
- The ABVP raised objections against the teaching of the book citing its “anti-national subject.”
- Many political leaders have criticised the withdrawal.
Political Leaders Criticise Withdrawal
Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a member of parliament representing Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, took to her Twitter account to criticise the book’s withdrawal. She wrote, “If politics is going to decide what literature, art, and curriculum is all about, it is very dangerous for a pluralistic society.”
ஆட்சியதிகாரமும், அரசியலும் எது கலை, எது இலக்கியம் எதை மாணவர்கள் படிக்க வேண்டும் என்று முடிவு செய்வது ஒரு சமுதாயத்தின் பன்முகத்தன்மையை அழித்து விடும். pic.twitter.com/vjKKybSSAR— Kanimozhi (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) November 12, 2020
DMK MP and poet Thamizhachi Thangapandian also condemned the book’s removal as an act that shows the authoritarianism of those in power. “If those in power decide what students should study, social justice, plurality and freedom of expression will become a question mark,” she wrote. Su Venkatesan, CPI (M) leader, and a writer, also condemned the university’s withdrawal of the book from the syllabus.
மனோன்மணியம் சுந்தரனார் பல்கலைகழகத்தின் பி.ஏ ஆங்கிலம் பட்டப்படிப்பில், இந்தியாவின் புகழ் மிக்க எழுத்தாளர் அருந்ததிராய் எழுதிய “Walking with the Comrades” என்ற புத்தகம் பாடமாக உள்ளது. மார்க்ஸிஸ்ட், நக்சலைட்டுகளுடன் பயணம் மேற்கொண்டது பற்றி, அருந்ததிராய் எழுதிய— தமிழச்சி (@ThamizhachiTh) November 12, 2020
Image Credit: The Economic Times
Tarini Gandhiok is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.