Nandini Sundar


In light of the recent arrests of activists who have been working around tribal rights, Delhi University banned two books, which were prescribed as History readings, for ‘glorifying Naxals’ and ‘legitimising conversion of tribals to Christians’.

Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar, by Nalini Sundar and Against Ecological Romanticism: Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-modern Tribal Identity, by Archana Prasad are the books which are being removed from the course based on the logic that they are ‘not fit’ for DU students.

Against Ecological Romanticism: Verrier Elwin and the Making of an Anti-modern Tribal Identity is a set of essays which aim to challenge the preconceived notions about tribal life, economy and identity while stating the reality if their lives. Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar talks about the political changes taking places in Bastar which in turn affected the socio-economic status. It traces these developments from colonial India to postcolonial India.

Both the authors have been highly appreciated for their work in their respective books and have won prestigious awards like Ester Boserup Prize for Research on Development from Copenhagen in 2016 and the Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies in 2017. Sundar points out how it was a couple of BJP leaders’ objection which led to this unjustified decision. She was backed by historian Ramachandra Guha who emphasised on the scholarly importance of the book for academic purposes. 

Feature Image Credits: Culture Trip

Oishee Roy

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With inputs from Times of India

So here we are, having survived 2016, with all the swag and luster, at Delhi University. This year shall be remembered in the academic vicinity for various reasons. As for the freshers and rest alike, whether you were basking in the carelessness of the post-war (pun intended) vacation or were getting yourselves squeezed in the queue for hours together in the ruthless Northern summer after overnight brainstorming to dismantle the enigma of the Delhi University cut offs, detrimental things were going on around you.
If you failed to pay heed to these developments, we come up with 5 controversies which made the year.

1. Something which took freshers by surprise was the boycott of the admission process by the faculty. Later, we learnt of the boycott of the evaluation process itself. This was all in response of the University Grants Commission (UGC) gazette notification, which intended to raise the working hours. Since we ended up being taught, the crisis must have been resolved.

2. The Delhi University election sent shock waves throughout September. The guidelines against the usage of paper pamphlets fell to the deaf ears of the young candidates as is the pollution in Diwali to Delhi-ites. Three out of four posts, including that of president, were bagged by ABVP, RSS’s student outfit, amidst cries of foul play by NSUI. The 4th October pictures of Amit Tanwar, the president, posing with guns in the varsity campus deepened the charges of hooliganism and criminalisation of DU politics, reducing our expectations from our leaders which had already been weakened by all the freebies.

3. The ceiling collapse on 30th August at Daulat Ram College was the frightful realisation of long time fears of all the 63 DU colleges. This incident brought into national focus the hollow claims about the infrastructure and raised many questions. Students came out on the streets asking for more washrooms, basic sanitation facilities and better heed to grievances from immediate effect.

4. 2016, to an extent, saw the Pinjra Tod movement, an initiative which grew out of a Facebook page in August, 2015 to champion the causes of women in hostels and PG, yield results. In response to the countless protest marches, curfews have been slackened, leading to the removal of guardian’s permission for leave, among many other feats. But as Sabika Naqvi rightly maintains, there is a long long way to go.

5. On 8th November, DU professor Nandini Sundar was booked on the alleged charges of murder of a tribal man Shamnath Baghel in Sukma district of Chattisgarh. She called the allegations ‘absurd’ and fittingly no new development seems on the plate.Interstingly, this is not her maiden face off with Bastar Inspector General Kalluri. Nandini Sundar had been the whistle-blower in the alleged atrocities at the hands of security forces. Earlier this year, her trip to Bastar under the alias of Richa Keshav had already flaked controversies.

Nikhil Kumar
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Image credits: www.123rf.com

Professor Nandini Sundar, and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Archana Prasad are among the 10 people accused in the murder of a tribal villager in Chhattisgarh. All the accused have been booked under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code. Prof. Sundar has been named in a complaint by the wife of Shamnath Baghel, who was killed by Maoists last in Nama village of the Maost-hit Dantewada district. “As per the complaint lodged by the victim’s wife, her husband had been getting threats from Maoists since he and other villagers had complained against Sundar in May for allegedly inciting innocent tribals against the government and seeking their support for Maoists,” claims Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range), SRP Kalluri. “Following the development, according to villagers, Sundar and others went in the village to allegedly threaten them not to oppose the Maoists,” he further added. Police also asserted that Prof. Sundar was using a fake name – Richa Keshav – while operating in Bastar. As of now, the Bastar Police has written to the respective Vice Chancellors of DU and JNU informing them about the undergoing inquiry against both the professors. “It is absurd, bizarre, and patently malafide. I haven’t been in Bastar in months,” the 48-year-old activist professor said in her defense. Professor Nandini Sundar also indicted IG Kalluri of specifically targeting activists because he fears being implicated in cases of fake encounters and human rights violations that the activists have been fighting for years. She believes that Baghel’s wife was coerced into filing a complaint against her. Nandini Sundar is an award – winning Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, and has many publications in her name. Her latest book, The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar, was released in October this year. It was on Prof. Sundar’s petition that the Supreme Court in 2011 ordered the disbanding of Salwa Judum, a state-backed militia formed to take on the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. This is not the first time that Delhi University professors have come under the scanner of police. In February this year, a former Arabic professor of Zakir Hussain Delhi College, SAR Geelani, was charged with sedition, criminal conspiracy, and unlawful assembly, before that an English Professor of Shyaam Lal College was arrested in 2014 for having alleged links with Maoist. Featured Image: infoysissciencefoundation.com Niharika Dabral [email protected]  ]]>