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India: Delhi University bans Dali writer’s books from syllabus

Friday 26 October 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/du-plans-removal-three-books-dalit-writer-kancha-ilaiah

DU plans removal of three books by Dalit writer Kancha Ilaiah

Written by Sabrangindia

Published on: October 25, 2018

The Standing Committee on Academic Matters found the content insulting to Hinduism. It also recommended discontinuing the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in academic discourse.

New Delhi: The Delhi University is planning to remove three books written by Dalit writer-activist and professor Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd from the political science syllable for Master’s courses.

DU’s Standing Committee on Academic Matters recommended this move on Wednesday and said that they found the content insulting to Hinduism. The decision has to be approved by the Academic Council and a meeting will be held before November 15. It also recommended discontinuing the use of the word ‘Dalit’ in academic discourse.

Committee member Professor Hansraj Suman said there was a discussion on the syllabus of nine Master’s courses. “We decided to remove the books ‘Why I am not a Hindu’, ‘Buffalo Nationalism’ and ‘Post-Hindu India’ because they are insulting to Hinduism. We felt it would not be appropriate for students to read it,” he said in a report by Indian Express.

Professor Geeta Bhatt, member of Delhi University (DU) academic council, told News18 that Ilaiah’s books were his understanding of Hindu faith and “there is no empirical data to establish his understanding”.

The report suggested one more book that was to be removed besides the three listed above. Apparently, the book ‘God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism’ besides ‘Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution’ and ‘Why Am I Not a Hindu is also being reconsidered.

“The political science department should look into its syllabus. These books by Kancha Ilaiah are vitriolic towards Hindu faith,” Bhatt said, terming the author’s writing as unsubstantiated by facts. She added that Ilaiah wrote about how “Hindutva school wants me to treat my Christian and Muslim brothers as enemies” and how “the very sight of saffron tilak harasses him”. “He has problems with a word like ‘tapasya’. It is all about his mind and his understanding of a faith. As an academic piece, there is no content in it and no reason to teach it. His every book has this vitriol,” Bhatt said,” the report added.

Speaking to News18, the political science head of department, professor Veena Kukreja, said: “There were some objections raised that considered the work of Kancha Ilaiah controversial. We were told that if we want to teach it, then there should be a counter-narrative as well. However, some wanted its removal. We are a democratic body, and the teachers and experts concerned will sit, decide and justify why we teach Ilaiah. It will be pursued democratically.”

According to the report, the teachers had objected to two more books and asked for their removal. The books were professor Nandini Sundar’s ‘Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar’ and professor Archana Prasad’s ‘Against Ecological Romanticism: Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-Modern Tribal Identity (2003)’.

In 2017, The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL by an advocate of Delhi seeking to impose a ban on the book ‘Komatlu Samajika Smugglerlu’ (Komatlu Social Smugglers) published by Prof. Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd.

An extract from his book ‘Untouchable God’ can be read here.

Ever since BJP came to power, textbooks across the country have seen a sea change in syllabus. Mughals are slowly disappearing from school textbooks and history is being rewritten by distorting facts. Rajasthan is notorious for changing history and removed important material on Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru from school textbooks. School textbooks in Madhya Pradesh lie and say that India won the Sino-Indian war in 1962. Even the mention of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by Nathuram Godse has been removed.

“New school textbooks in India promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship policies have prompted fresh criticism that the government is using the education system to further his political agenda. An analysis of 25 textbooks by the Indian Express newspaper found examples of newly inserted paragraphs casting Modi’s policies in a positive light, including programs like “demonetization” that wiped out more than 85 percent of India’s cash or one to educate girls, which has been criticized for underfunding,” reported Washington Post.