The Delhi University has been criticised for removing feminist literature from its syllabus for the undergraduate course in English, News18 reported on Wednesday.
The University’s Oversight Committee has reportedly removed writings of Dalit writers Bama Faustina Soosairaj and Sukirtharani, and Bengali author Mahasweta Devi.
However, on Wednesday, as many as 15 members of the Academic Council submitted a dissent note against the move, alleging “maximum vandalism” in the curriculum, The Indian Express reported. The council said that the Oversight Committee first replaced writings of Soosairaj and Sukirtharani with those of “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,” the dissent note stated.
The committee has also refused to accept any of the short stories by the Bengali writer, the dissent note also mentioned.
The Academic Council members expressed their dissent against changes in other course material as well. They said that in a 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”, according to The Indian Express.
In another Discipline Specific Elective paper, titled Pre-colonial Indian Literatures, the Oversight Committee has reportedly asked the English Department to replace Chandrabati Ramayana with Tulsidas.
This decision, the Academic Council members alleged, would result in removing a “feminist reading” of the epic Ramayana, News18 reported.
“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,” the dissent note said.
It mentioned that the Oversight Committee has no members from the Dalit or tribal communities.
Meanwhile, Oversight Committee Chairman MK Pandit said that he was not aware of the caste of authors whose works have been removed. “I don’t believe in casteism...I do not look at Indians as belonging to different castes,” he told The Indian Express.
On the changes in the syllabus, Pandit said that there had been a revision in the course structure after a “certain story” was being taught for many years. He added that not just one, but many other authors “deserve to be taught”.