The English Department of the University of Delhi (DU) unanimously passed the undergraduate syllabus without any further changes, despite initially having objections to the proposed amendments.
In a set of new developments in the DU syllabus-revision row, the Committee of Courses of the Department of English of DU, has concordantly approved the syllabus to the undergraduate course after the Executive Committee (EC) had sent back the proposed syllabus with 26 points which they wanted to be changed.
However, the department had earlier dismissed these changes as ‘absurd and irrational’, but has now passed them all, with the external faculty of advisors even commending the new content. External experts, Dr Anup Singh Beniwal, former Vice Chancellor (VC) and Dean of Humanities of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIP) and Dr Mukesh Ranjan, from Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI), scrutinized the syllabus and praised its academic merits.
The EC had sent back the curriculum for further review under the supervision of an oversight committee and resubmission by the end of the month. The Faculty of Arts, DU will also be vetting the syllabus before it is implemented across the varsity.
Earlier this month, only a few days before the start of the new session at DU, the Varsity had asked for expert comments and suggestions towards the revision of syllabi of many undergraduate courses. Out of which, those of English, Sociology, History and Political Science have undergone as many as thirty changes. But the University has still not decided whether to scrap the proposed revamped syllabi or to implement it.
In an interview with The New Indian Express, a source from the English Department said, “In the Indian Writing section, we are being asked to replace Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadowlines with RK Narayan’s Swami and Friends, Meena Kandaswamy’s Touch with Premchand’s The Shroud. We had to point out that Amitav Ghosh has just won the Gyanpeeth Puraskar and bears more contemporary relevance. Also, that Premchand is not an Indian English author. His work is already there in the Modern Indian Writing in Translation paper.”
The faculty had already dropped the most disputed short story titled ‘Maniben alias Bibijaan’ written by Shilpa Paralkar which entailed a Hindu woman’s connection with a Muslim man in the backdrop of the Godhra riots of 2002 and hinted that a character – a member of the Bajrang Dal – was associated with looting and burning an old Muslim man alive with his granddaughter.
“We also had to drop an essay by Mukul Kesavan on a politically empowering government, (and) Neha Dixit’s award-winning reportage on mob-lynching. We had to get rid of all reference to Indian deities and their association with queerness — we are only trying to make the students engage with gender beyond the binary and we have had that in Indic civilisation since ancient times. The Ardha-Nariswar avatar of Shiva is the best example of gender fluidity. But they did not accept the argument and alleged that Shiva is being held up as the symbol for the LGBTQ community,” said Saikat Ghosh, a member of the Standing Committee, Academic Council and an Assistant Professor of English at the Varsity, in conversation with The New Indian Express.
The faculty members of the English Department had also mentioned that they are unclear of what is expected of them in the face of conflict regarding the nature and tone of the syllabus, and are confused as to which syllabus to follow or what to teach the students. They have also made clear that they “will not be entertaining any further absurd modifications”.
The past week, protests by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyalaya Parishad (ABVP) at North Campus of the University, also objected to the ‘uncalled for and unnecessary changes’ to the syllabus, while other parties like the All India Students’ Association (AISA) protested against the intrusion of ABVP in the process of the making of the syllabus.
Meanwhile, the students of the Varsity are having to bear the brunt of the delays in decision-making and the revision process.
Feature Image Credits: Spirit Earth Awakening