Delhi University (DU) is facing backlash after it’s Oversight Committee removed Mahasweta Devi’s short story and two other Dalit authors’ work from the university’s English Syllabus.
During a meeting help on Wednesday, 15 Academic Council members submitted a dissent note against the OC and its workings. The committee members alleged that there have been ‘maximum vandilism’ English Learning Outcomes Based Curriculum Framework (LOCF) syllabus for Semester V.
The committee said that the OC first replaced Bama and Sukharharini with “upper caste writer Ramabai”. The opposing statement said, “The Committee, as an afterthought, suddenly asked the English department to delete the celebrated short story of Mahasweta Devi, ‘Draupadi’ – a story about a tribal woman – without giving any academic logic to the decision. This is notwithstanding the fact that ‘Draupadi’ has been taught by the University of Delhi since 1999 owing to its seminal academic value.”
“Moreover the Committee refused to accept any short story by Mahasweta Devi despite her iconic status globally as a writer and being a winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award and Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India,” the AC committee wrote.
According to the committee, the OC also deleted sections from the ‘Interrogating Queerness’ paper of Discipline Specific Elective (DSE) “at the expense of the academic rigour of the paper”. The OC allegedly made these changes without sharing any feedback with syllabus committee of the English department or the Committee of Courses and other stakeholders.
They accused OC of showing prejudice against the representation of Dalits, women, Tribals and sexual minorities. The letter added, “It is important to note that the Oversight Committee does not have any member from the Dalit or the Tribal community who can possibly bring in some sensitivity to the issue.”
As per a report by Indian Express, OC Chairman MK Pandit said, “I don’t want to go into specifics, but a certain story has been taught for many years, and if there is revision, that is fine. There’s not just one author, there are many authors who deserve to be taught.” He added that he does not know the caste of authors.
He added, “I accommodate everyone’s point of view. They are all experts… I can read English, you can read English. If something offensive is written somewhere, we don’t need a PhD in literature to understand that.”