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Team Careers360|Oct 16, 2021
New Delhi: Some members of the Delhi University Academic Council have strongly opposed the dropping of Mahasweta Devi's short story ‘Draupadi’ and the removal of two Dalit authors from the English (H) syllabus by the Oversight Committee. The Council on Tuesday had dropped the celebrated short story and the two Dalit authors from BA (Hons) English course while approving changes in its syllabus in on recommendations from the varsity’s Oversight Committee.
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The council had also approved the implementation of the National Education Policy from 2022-23 and four-year undergraduate programmes, overriding a strong dissent from its members, in its 12-hour long meeting on Tuesday. A total of 15 members of the DU Academic Council gave a dissent note stating that there had been “maximum vandalism” in LOCF (Learning Outcomes-based Curriculum Framework) English syllabus for the fifth semester.
In the note, they said the Oversight Committee first took a decision to remove two Dalit authors -- Bama and Sukhartharini -- and replaced them with “upper-caste writer Ramabai”. “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. This is despite the fact that 'Draupadi' has been taught by the University of Delhi since 1999 owing to its seminal academic value,” the note read.
“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,” it added. The note also said that in a DSE (Discipline Specific Elective) paper titled 'Interrogating Queerness', the Oversight Committee “arbitrarily deleted sections from the units at the expense of the academic rigour of the paper”.
Calling the changes “arbitrary”, they alleged that these were “imposed without sharing any feedback from the stakeholders either with the syllabus committee of the department or with the Committee of Courses”.
“The Oversight Committee has always shown a prejudice against the representation of Dalits, tribals, women and sexual minorities as evident in its concerted efforts to remove all such voices from the syllabus," they said.
The note also alleged that the committee does not have any member from the Dalit or the Tribal community. They also alleged that the committee had harassed other departments and said the OC “continued to harass no end departments like History, Political Science and Sociology while approving their revised LOCF syllabus -- that too only for Semester V”.
“The Committee directed the History department to incorporate modifications in the syllabus of BA (Hons) History, none of which belong to the discipline of History,” they said. Professor M K Pandit, chairman of the oversight committee told PTI, "I didn't know that an author was Dalit. The head of the English department was part of all the meetings.”
“Is he not an expert on the subject. The Dean of Arts, Social Sciences were part of the meetings. Are they not experts? There is bound to be dissent in a democracy. They are our colleagues and we respect their viewpoint," he added. He said a certain story has been taught for ages and there is bound to be revision, he said. In 2019, a right-wing teachers' outfit had claimed that the syllabi of four subjects are pro-Left.
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