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Friday, Jul 19, 2019

Delhi University members object to lessons on Gujarat riots, homosexuality and caste

During the meeting, while the syllabi of all other courses were passed without objections, the syllabus of English department faced criticism.

education Updated: Jul 15, 2019 07:28 IST
Fareeha Iftikhar
Fareeha Iftikhar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A section of a Delhi University (DU) panel has recommended dropping a lesson from the syllabus under the BA (Programme) course
A section of a Delhi University (DU) panel has recommended dropping a lesson from the syllabus under the BA (Programme) course (Saumya Khandelwal/HT File PHOTO)

A section of a Delhi University (DU) panel has recommended dropping a lesson from the syllabus under the BA (Programme) course as it portrayed “two members of a right wing group in wrong light”. They also objected to a paper on homosexuality, in the BA English (Hons) course, calling it controversial, and another on caste system.

Both topics fall under the English Department whose teachers decided they would argue against dropping the lessons before the Academic Council on Monday.

The objections were raised during a meeting of the University’s standing committee for academic affairs on Thursday. The meeting was to approve the revised syllabi of around 54 undergraduate courses.

During the meeting, while the syllabi of all other courses were passed without objections, the syllabus of English department faced criticism.

Rasal Singh, member of a right-wing teachers’ group in DU — National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF) — said the lesson they wanted dropped was a story written in the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“The story depicts two members of a right wing group in a very wrong light,” he said. “They were shown as murderers and rioters. It can create a wrong perception about that group. We demanded that story be removed from the syllabus.”

A senior official from the DU’s department of English said the story is in the syllabus since 2010. “It’s absolutely surprising that some standing committee members are demanding the removal of the story after so many years,” the member said.

The NDTF members also opposed the inclusion of a paper titled “interrogating queerness” in the BA English (Hons) course, and the addition of a paper on caste system in India in the same course.

“The paper on queerness has very controversial content. It claims that some deities also believed in same sex marriages. The department has on the other hand removed a paper on Indian writings in English. It’s against the University Grants Commission’s (UGC’s) Learning Outcome-based Framework (LOCF) guidelines, which clearly states that the syllabus should give relevance to Indian ethos,” said another member, who wished not to be named.

Saikat Ghosh, assistant professor in English and a member of the standing committee, said that the paper on Indian writings in English has not been removed but shifted from core group to elective. Under the present choice based credit system (CBCS), students get to study core or compulsory and elective or optional subjects. “The syllabus has writings of over 140 India authors and the papers on caste and queerness are equally important. We need to include them in the syllabus,” he said.

The English Department on Friday had decided to defend their changed syllabus in the Academic Council (AC) meeting scheduled on Monday. “The department has decided not to make any change as of now. We have not violated any UGC norm,” Ghosh added.

Departments across the University have revised the syllabi of all courses in order to fit in the UGC’s newly introduced LOCF and choice based credit system .

Rasal Singh said the department has revised the syllabus beyond the limit of 30 % set by the University. “We have asked the department to rectify the changes. If they won’t make consider the given recommendations we will not let the AC pass the syllabus,” he said.

First Published: Jul 14, 2019 04:00 IST

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