English Department


In a recurring move by the University, a whopping twelve-fold fee hike for the English PhD programme this time has left both students and teachers enraged and aghast.

The University of Delhi’s English Department recently announced the increased fees for their PhD programme. The fee has escalated from Rs. 1,932 last year to Rs. 23,968 currently, causing shocked reactions from several groups of teachers and students.

There have been stern critics against the university’s move, with teacher and student organisations blaming the new National Education Policy as a tool to ‘privatise’ and ‘commercialise’ education.

Earlier implementation of NEP led to a 400% fee hike in Allahabad University and 100% in BHU, and the same has now happened in Delhi University.

Anjali, DU Secretary of the All India Students’ Association (AISA)

The Democratic Teachers’ Front formally protested against the fee hike via a letter addressed to Vice Chancellor Yogesh Singh.

Comparisons of such fee hikes are also being done with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) after the institution borrowed from the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).

This has led the DU wing of the All India Students’ Association to call for investigations into the role of HEFA behind student fee hikes.

The role of HEFA has to be examined, in which government grants for universities are being replaced by loans, which also have the component of interest. Delhi University has already procured loans worth Rs. 1800 crore, which will be extracted along with interest from student’s pockets. This is a strategic attempt by both the government and the administration to push out the marginalized sections (dalits, adivasis, women, and gender minorities) out of education.

Anjali on AISA’s stance on HEFA.

The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) also criticised the fee hike, stating that it would hinder ‘access to quality education.’ They also declared that this fee hike is a ‘blatant attack on publicly funded institutions’ and ‘exacerbates financial stress on students and their families.’ Lastly, they also claim that the administration did not allow the PhD students enough time to submit their fees and were asked to pay the amount through a ‘one-day deadline’.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad also opposed the increase in fees and highlighted the ‘lack of representation’ in central universities.

Despite such protests and opposition, the University administration is yet to make a formal public comment regarding such massive developments.

Read More: DU Sees Rise in Applications After Introduction of 5-Year Law Courses

Featured Image Credits: Frontlist

Priyanka Mukherjee

[email protected]

At 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 10th September, the Pune police searched the residence of Hany Babu, a professor in the English Department of the University of Delhi (DU), in relation to the Elgar case.

On Tuesday, 10th September 2019, Pune police conducted a series of searches in the residence of Hany Babu, a professor in the English Department of the University of Delhi (DU), in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The searches were conducted in connection to the Elgar Parishad case of 2017. He was investigated due to alleged Maoist links. Though no arrest was made, this development was confirmed by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Shivaji Pawar.  “We have conducted a search operation at Babu’s residence in Noida in connection with the Elgar Parishad case registered at the Vishrambaug police station in Pune,” Pawar told India Today, adding that police have recovered some electronic devices.

The Elgar conclave was held on 31st December 2017, to commemorate the battle of Koregaon-Bhima, and the speeches made during this conclave aggravated the caste violence around the Koregaon Bhima village in the district on 1st January 2018. This led to the death of one person, and several others were injured. Police have arrested nine persons related to the case so far.

Professor Hany Babu’s Public Statement on the police intimidation and raid at his house read:

I am Hany Babu, residing with my family in Noida. I have been teaching at the English Department in the University of Delhi as an Associate Professor for close to a decade.

At 6:30 AM in the morning, 20 people knocked at my door, claiming that they belonged to the Pune Crime Branch. Five of them were in uniform, the rest were in civil clothes. I was told that they wanted to conduct a search of my residence. When asked for a search warrant, I was told that there was none and that this case doesn’t need one. Following this, I requested for some form of identification to be shown to me. An officer with the name Dr. Shivaji Pawar showed me his ID. After this, the officers entered my residence and looked through every room of my apartment. The search went on for six hours, at the end of which they said they would be seizing my laptop, my hard disks, my pen drives and books. They made me change the passwords of my social media accounts and my email account. They have complete access to my accounts now through the changed passwords and I no longer have access to these accounts. I would like to state that as a teacher, my work is heavily dependent on what I’ve saved in my laptops and external hard disks. It also contains the research work that I’ve been pursuing for years. This work is not something which can be duplicated in days. These are years of my hard work. I don’t understand how a government agency can seize my work without providing me the reasons for it, or the basis on which a search was conducted at my residence. They did not have a search warrant with them and they did not explain further as to why they don’t possess the same. While the search was ongoing, they also seized the phones of my wife and my daughter, barring us from communicating with our friends.”

In a press release by Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), Rajib Ray, the President of DUTA condemned the act, claiming that such raids without search warrants are against the very essence of democracy, individual freedom, and open the door for planting evidence.” He also states that such intolerance towards criticism and dissent was the basis for the insidious attempt that was made last year to amend the Delhi University Act and apply ESMA, and that “this attack on academic freedom and freedom of expression will be opposed tooth and nail by the teachers of Delhi University and other academic institutions in the country.”

The search operation has been met with a massive uproar. A protest was organised on 11th September near the Faculty of Arts, North Campus, to raise questions on the essential nature of dissent in a politically active space like DU, and its lack thereof in the face of desperate attempts to annihilate contrasting voices. This is the latest case in a series of witch-hunts aimed at making the college spaces more “positive”.

Feature Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Shreya Juyal

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The English Department of the University of Delhi (DU) continues to be negatively affected by the Syllabus Controversy. 

The Executive Council of DU has approved the syllabus for English for the first semester, but this approved syllabus continues to be a mystery for not only the students, but also the professors. In fact, even the Head of the English Department, Professor Raj Kumar has not been made privy to the new syllabus. This continued delay with regard to the syllabus has now moved beyond ideological and ethical debates, and has started to negatively impact the students, causing mass worry and frustration across the University campuses. 

In most colleges, professors have started to teach the first-year students the old syllabus, but they are not sure about whether what they are teaching the first-year students is going to be relevant to them with respect to the upcoming examinations. Priyanshi Banerjee, a first-year student of English at Lady Shri Ram College, said, “No one seems to know anything about the new syllabus and this is causing a lot of problems for us first-years. Examinations are not going to get postponed, but considering the current slow pace of studies I don’t know how we are going to manage to complete our course work.”

Students are not even able to procure the books being taught currently because the bookstores in the college campuses are not stocking them, because of a lack of clarity with respect to the prescribed texts. Shyla Sharma, another first-year student of the English Department, said, “All of us are very anxious. It is very odd for us to see other department’s students going about their course work when we don’t even know what our syllabus is. Even the professors seem upset and lost, and this is causing a lot of confusion. We don’t even have all of our books yet, as we have been told not to buy them. I hope the syllabus is soon released.”

In spite of the mass tension, an academic debate in the midst of the syllabus controversy continues to flourish. Royina Chhabra, a first-year student of the English Department, said, “Restrictions are being put on our academic freedom. We should have a right to study what we want to, especially our history and culture irrespective of whether it is good or bad. How else are we supposed to learn and think for ourselves? This entire controversy is taking a huge toll on our education.” Many students also seem to be specifically upset about the negative debate with respect to the exclusion of the Queer Literature Paper. A first-year student of the English Department, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “Queerness is a part of our lives. Section 377 no longer criminalises homosexuality, so why is our education system doing so? In fact, I believe that it is the responsibility of our education system to educate people about queerness because most people in India aren’t aware of, or comfortable about it. The fact that our new syllabus is probably going to be politically motivated and authoritarian in nature highly antagonises me.”

The Syllabus Controversy began when right-wing organisations like the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) objected to the English Department for including certain study material relating to caste and gender in the new syllabus. Specifically speaking, they had an issue with the story Manibein alias Bibijaan in which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bajrang Dal are portrayed negatively, with respect to the 2002 Gujarat riots, and the inclusion of the depiction of Hindu deities in queer literature by taking references from texts like Bhagvath Puran, Sankar Puran, and Shiv Puran. Counter-protests for academic freedom by organisations like the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Association (AISA), Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), and Pinjra Tod soon followed, leading to ideological and educational confrontations. This controversy has led to the syllabuses of many subjects not being released, even though the new academic year has already started. 

Feature Image Credits: Sriya Rane for DU Beat

Juhi Bhargava

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Recent proposals for changes in the syllabi of various undergraduate courses have sparked opposition from the teaching staff, and the ABVP.

Controversy over academic matters arose in the  University of Delhi (DU), with some members of the Standing Committee and the Academic Council (AC), along with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) taking objections to some of the proposed changes in the syllabi of various undergraduate courses.

The controversy has taken the form of opposition from Academic Council members and protests by the ABVP, which some had alleged to have turned hostile.

The Background

A report in The Hindu stated that changes in the syllabus proposed by the English department of the University were opposed in a meeting of the Standing Committee to review the Undergraduate syllabus on 11th July. Among the proposals was the inclusion of study materials related to the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and use of Hindu deities in the reading of Queer Literature.  

Similar was the case with the English Journalism syllabus. As reported by The New Indian Express on 15th July, objection was raised by some members of the Academic Council over the inclusion of chapters about Muzaffarnagar riots, and instances of lynchings.

On 17th July, The Indian Express reported about the syllabus changes of other courses and the objections that came along with them. These included syllabi of History, Political Science and Sociology, along with English. The report stated that the Academic Council “referred the syllabus of English and History back to the respective departments for reconsideration, thereby refusing to pass it as it is.” The report further read, “On the syllabi for Political Science and Sociology, some AC members said they too had been sent back for modification, while others claimed they were passed with ‘minor modifications’.”

Who objected and why?

Professor Rasal Singh, a member of the Academic Council, had raised objections regarding the syllabus changes. He alleged that in the story Maniben Alias Bibijaan – a background to the 2002 Gujarat riots – RSS and its affiliate organisations like Bajrang Dal were shown in a “very bad manner”, and were portrayed as “looters” and “murderers”.

He further said that in the syllabus proposed by the English department, “Gods Vishnu, Shiv, Kartikeya and Ganesh were depicted as part of the LGBT community. The sources and evidence for these were secondary sources like ‘Same Sex Love in India’ written by Leftists on the basis of foundational texts of Indian culture such as the Bhagavata Purana, Skanda Purana, and Shiva Purana.” He also alleged that “too much Literature was being incorporated in a paper like ‘Communication Skills’. Instead of core courses like ‘Indian Writing in English’, new papers such as ‘Literature and Caste’ and ‘Interrogating Queerness’ were started.”

Regarding the History department, he said that “[topics about] Rajput history, Amir Khusrau, Sher Shah Suri and Babasaheb Ambedkar were removed from the syllabus. In the ‘Democracy on Work’ course, only the history of Naxalism and the Left have been included.”

He also said that the topics related to the Vedic society, the joint family, village swaraj, and “basics of Indian cultural thought such as environmental discussions and nature worship” were removed from the Sociology syllabus. On the Political Science front, according to Mr Singh, Maoism had been included in the course on ‘Indian Social Movements’, while other social movements like the Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj, Brahma Samaj, and Khudai Khidmatgar were removed.

Mr Singh also alleged that the English department had not complied with the format and instructions of the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) and instead of a 30 percent change in the syllabus, close to a 100 percent change had been done.

The syllabus showed “tremendous predominance of leftist ideology and a ceaseless opposition towards nationalist ideology, Indian culture and the RSS,” Mr Singh said.

The ABVP, the student-wing of the RSS, organised a protest on 15th July, against the “inclusion of false facts relating to Hinduism and nationalist organisations.” The ABVP also demanded for the “inclusion of elected office bearers of Delhi University Students’ Union in the Academic Council,” as per a press release made by the student organisation on 16th July.

While some alleged that the ABVP tried to “barge into” the Vice Chancellor’s office and demanded that the Heads of Department of English and History, and Academic Council member Saikat Ghosh be “handed over to them,” the student organisation maintained that the protest was “peaceful.”

“Following the protest of ABVP yesterday, Delhi University administration has withdrawn the proposed syllabus of Political Science, English, History and Sociology courses for revision and decided to retain 5 students as members in the Academic Council,” said Ashutosh Singh from the ABVP.

Note – Mr Ghosh could not respond to requests for comments by the time of publishing of this report. This report would be updated as and when he does.

Similar instances in the past

In October last year, the ABVP had objected to the appointment of historian Ramachandra Guha as the Shrenik Lalbhai Chair Professor of Humanities and the Director of the Gandhi Winter School at the Ahmedabad University’s School of Arts and Sciences. Pravin Desai, the ABVP Secretary for Ahmedabad city was quoted in The Indian Express as saying, “We said that we want intellectuals in our educational institutes and not anti-nationals, who can also be termed as ‘urban Naxals’. We had quoted anti-national content from his [Guha’s] books to the Registrar. We told him, the person you are calling is a ‘Communist’. If he is invited to Gujarat, there would be a JNU-kind ‘anti-national’ sentiment.”

Following this, Mr Guha announced that he would not be taking up this position due to “circumstances beyond my control.”


Some student organisations have condemned the ABVP’s protests. Organisations such as the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Association (AISA), Collective, and others had called for a ‘joint protest’ on 17th July at the Arts Faculty, to “save our critical thinking universities and textbooks from communal forces.”

Amarjeet Kumar Singh from AISA said, “We demand that the syllabus should be decided by the Academic Council and not by the ABVP.”

Feature Image Credits: Various.

Prateek Pankaj

[email protected]


The Department of English, Maitreyi College, organised their annual literary festival and national seminar, Ekphrasis, on 18th and 19th March, 2016. It included many engaging and riveting paper presentations and talks by renowned scholars and proficient student researchers.

The first day started with a keynote address by Professor Christel Dewadawson, a Ph.D. scholar from the University of Cambridge and the head of the English Department at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. She began with a demonstration of pictorial satires and spoke about the relationship between sacred and secular contours. She explained how the emergence of pictorial satires in India deliberately sought and found new worlds to conquer, and gradually grew into a thoughtful platform that represents and responds sensitively to both personal as well as national issues of grief and morality today.

Dr. Shanta Roy, Professor of English at Maitreyi College, then welcomed the new Editorial Board of their Literary Newsletter, Dialect, with Dr. (Prof.) Richa Chilana, Swarnima Narayan and Nimisha Sinha as chief editors, along with Anna Dasgupta, Illica Ratan, Anubha Gautam, Navya Kanwar, Srishti Chaudhary, Varsha Sharma, Arushi Sundaram, and Yasmeen as the rest of the editorial team.


The first session of paper presentations titled ‘The Visual: Effects and After Effects’ was shared by two speakers. Rustam Singh, a renowned poet and philosopher, elucidated on the nature of different kinds of visual objects and believed that the void essence behind objects can be easily deciphered through one sole look. Sohum Mandal, a Ph.D. Scholar in English, from Jawaharlal Nehru University, spoke about the role of street art as an urban space making practice. Considering each viewer to be unique in their perception and articulation of visual representation, he says “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” He further distinguishes graffiti (spray painting) being a form of spontaneous, politically motivated act of vandalism from the legitimate profession of Street Art which involves beautification of architecture through sanctioned governmental operations.

The second session, titled ‘Envisioning the Nation’ was chaired by Dr. Manish Sharma and lead by the speaker, Kalsang Yangzom, a Researcher at University of Delhi, who presented a literary visual analysis on the protests of Tibetan struggle for freedom, wherein the subject of self immolation, “marked by nationalistic value and used as cultural symbols” was also discussed. This was followed by two more speakers, Mr. Sanjib Goswami, a researcher from Guwahati University, who gave an enthralling analytical study on the folk arts and crafts of Assam, along with Debrati Roy, a researcher from Ashoka University, who unveiled the history of Palestine Journalism through a visual documentation.

DSC_0386 (2)

The third session of the day, titled ‘Visually and its Other’ included a paper presentation on the colorful visuals of Visconti Tarot Cards by Payal from Kamala Nehru College which depicted how representations of women’s bodies stroke a meaningful connection with their role in the Pre- Renaissance period, and Saurav Chatterjee, a researcher from Jodavpur University whose paper described the birth of freedom struggle and feelings of nationalism through the Bengali Comics of Naraya Debnath’s ‘Batul, the Great!’ which portrayed Batul as an epitome of a national superhero.

The day ended with a guest appearance of Kanupriya, alumni of Maitreyi College, who gave a visual representation of the French artist, Franz Kafka’s collection of sketches and doodles which provided a powerful illustration of his psyche, state of transcendence and his willful interpretations of the world. According to her, Kafka was known, “not only for expressing a great deal of solitude in his sketches, but also for getting fully dissolved in it”.

The second day of Ekphrasis included a line-up of paper presentations by student researchers, and chaired by Sakshi Vasn, a Ph.D. scholar in English at the University of Delhi. The session began with Shantam and Snigdha Roy’s paper presentation on the topic ‘Death of an Artwork’ through which Snigdha emphasized Vivan Sundaram’s brilliantly infused artwork of memorials and T.V. Santosh’s exceptional paintings which mostly tackled the relentless themes of war and global terrorism. His painting of 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attacks was critically acclaimed. Swarnika, an undergraduate student of English at Hans Raj College, Delhi University, was next to present her research paper on Yaoi Genre, Japanese graphic (anime) novels based on simplified notions of love, life and masculinity in the romanticism of heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Pertaining to an 85% of female readership, these visual stories were such that they illustrated a subjectivity of homo-eroticism and painted a rosy view of happy endings. The last paper was presented by Mantra Mukim on the visual analysis of Raj Comics, which were introduced in 1980s and were transnational in nature. He also enhanced animals as essential elements in graphic novels as they not make the comic’s popularity among child readership stronger, but also put everyone in a state of captivation.


The event was followed by a talk by Vishwajyoti Ghosh, a graphic novelist, known popularly for his work in ‘Delhi Calm’, a gripping political graphic novel set in 1970s that re-imagines the city of Delhi during the period of Emergency in India. He also presented a graphic documentary film named ‘This Side, That Side’ that revolved around instances of restoring collective memories that like everything else, have too, been “partitioned”, the negotiations around borders, stories of lost love and friendships, the prejudices, etc, all of which were successful in keeping the audience glued to the screen and getting goose bumps appear on their skin. He ended by reflecting on the need to encourage children to read and make graphic novels more popular in India by getting them published in vernacular languages.


The event also hosted a couple of fun, informal events such as Beg, Borrow and Steal, a workshop on comics by Payal AP, debate, treasure hunt and a literary quiz basing ‘Snape as a Hero’ for all Harry Potter die-hards. These saw a great number of student participation from colleges such as Hans Raj, Ramjas, PGDAV, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya among others. Overall, the two day festival of literature was fruitfully engaging and visually appealing.

Featured Image Credits: Vibhana Kanwar for DU Beat and Shubhra Arora

Shagun Marwah

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