Attack on syllabus, say DU teachers in response to NDTF’s claims
The statement comes a day after a right-wing teachers’ group, the National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), accused four departments of being “very selective and non-inclusive in their approach” while revising their syllabi.Updated: Aug 03, 2019 22:14 IST
At least 87 English teachers of Delhi University on Saturday issued a statement, expressing shock at what they said was an unacademic and politically motivated attack on the syllabus.
The statement comes a day after a right-wing teachers’ group, the National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), accused four departments of being “very selective and non-inclusive in their approach” while revising their syllabi.
The revised syllabi of English—along with that of History, Political Science and Sociology—have been marked by controversies after members of NDTF and the RSS-affiliated student group Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) objected to their content, calling it “leftist”, “partisan”, and “propagandist” among other things.
English teachers from DU colleges criticised the statements, calling them “vituperative and non-academic” objection. “Why hasn’t a single English teacher come in public against the syllabus? Are syllabi going to be made by storm-troopers or teachers and academicians? The charges a handful of people made against the syllabus are baseless allegations,” said Rudrashish Chakraborty, assistant professor of English at Kirori Mal College.
The teachers said revision of the English syllabus involved faculty participation from around 40 colleges over two years. Teachers from all colleges were invited to participate in a general body meeting by the English department of the university and two GBMs were held in May and August 2017. “It is to be noted that objections that are now being raised were never submitted during the time allocated for feedback,” the teachers said in a statement.
“Students of English Hons, BA Programme, BCom and all other Science and Humanities departments where English is taught both as a compulsory paper and as an elective, are being made victims of the political machinations of certain groups,” they added.
In a letter to the vice-chancellor on Friday, NDTF said they had received complaints from many teachers over the syllabi. “Our sources informed us the head of departments of History and English humiliated and insulted such teachers instead of listening to them,” NDTF members said, asking the V-C not to clear the syllabus in one go.
Sanam Khanna, assistant professor of English at Kamala Nehru College, said on Saturday, “In the semester system, every day is precious. Plus, English is a text-based course and students need to buy books. For now, we have been doing group discussions, background reading and just introducing students to the subject,” she said.
“These are not academic objections. For instance, in Indian writing in English paper, they wanted Premchand, who primarily wrote in Hindi or Urdu. They want Amitav Ghosh to be removed, who recently won Jnanpith award. This is their level of academic judgement,” Khanna said.
The English department had recently removed a story on Gujarat riots, a paper on the Indian caste system and mention of Hindu scripture from the paper on homosexuality following objections from NDTF.
The syllabus of the four departments were sent back for “review” by the university’s academic council and executive council. Now after two rounds of revision, the final call on the syllabus will be taken by an oversight committee constituted by DU on Monday.
First Published: Aug 03, 2019 22:03 IST