VD Savarkar


Currently preparing the syllabi for four-year programmes for several subjects under the National Education Policy, Delhi University has replaced a paper on Mahatma Gandhi in semester V of BA (Hons) Political Science with one on Hindutva ideologue, VD Savarkar leading to a lot of discontent among academic circles.

The National Education Policy introduced the concept of a four-year degree course of eight semesters following which, the University is now currently devising a formal syllabus for all subjects. What caused great discontent among the academic circle, was the replacement of Gandhi with Savarkar in the BA Political Science (Hons) curriculum. The ideologies of VD Savarkar will now be taught in semester V while Mahatma Gandhi has been shifted to semester VII, allege several DU teachers, adding that this would mean students opting for a three-year graduation course instead of a four-year programme will not study Gandhi.

The motion in this regard was passed at the Academic Council meeting on Friday, May 26, inviting heavy dissatisfaction among a section of teachers, who deemed it as a ‘saffronisation’ of education and an ‘attempt to compare Gandhi and Savarkar’. The final call in this matter will be taken by the Executive Council, the highest decision-making body in DU.

Previously, the curriculum included a paper on Gandhi in semester V and Ambedkar in semester VI. However, the council also decided to introduce Savarkar in the syllabus, under the National Education Policy. Academic Council member, Alok Pandey commented that the proposal to teach Savarkar in semester V at the ‘cost’ of Gandhi was disagreed upon in the standing committee meeting, where it was decided to teach Gandhi in semester V, Savarkar in VI and Ambedkar in VII, as per their age chronology. However, the resolution was brought to the Academic Council meeting despite the disagreement.

Opposing the move, Rajesh Jha, a former Executive Council member said that students should be exposed to Gandhi in initial semesters to develop ‘critical thinking’ as Gandhian ideas are ‘inclusive’ and ‘reflect the collective consciousness of our freedom struggle’. He also adds that Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy ‘stands for good politics as well as good individuals’ and hence, teaching Gandhi before Savarkar would have prepared students to understand the latter’s thought in a ‘broader and more balanced perspective.’

As per the PTI review, ‘Understanding Gandhi’ was previously a paper in semester V which aimed to acquaint students with the social and political thoughts of the Mahatma. The course objective mentions that the themes in Gandhian thought that are chosen for close reading are ‘particularly relevant to our times.’

While all these issues have been burning, the Vice Chancellor, Yogesh Singh refused several PTI calls to comment on the matter.

Several such major shifts have been observed in the syllabus of other courses as well, as the University gradually revamps its educational curriculum according to the National Education Policy, leading to growing discontent among teachers and students alike.


Read Also: DU Standing Committee Proposes to Drop History Elective Course on Caste and Gender

Featured Image Credits: DU Updates (Google Images)


Priyanka Mukherjee

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The University of Delhi (DU) saw controversy unfold over Savarkar, from demands to rename the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) Office after V.D. Savarkar, to the installation of a pillar with his bust, along with those of Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh in the campus. The ideological warfare about his thoughts continues to be controversial.

As the DUSU elections approach, the University is grappling with the Savarkar Statue Controversy. The illegal installation of the bust, followed by its removal, reveals the ideological tussle between the different schools of thought.

An extremist in his thoughts, Savarkar was an Indian Independence activist who rebelled against the British rule through revolutionary means, and was imprisoned due to his anti-coloniser activities. Following a failed attempt to escape while being transported from Marseilles in France, he was sentenced to two life terms of imprisonment, and eventually landed in the cellular jail or Kala Pani. Savarkar has been always been at the eye of the storm, for being viewed as a “coward” since he wrote letters to the British, pleading to be released from the torture of the cellular jail.

Being an atheist, he believed that Hinduism was a political identity having a powerful moral force. While in prison, Savarkar wrote the work describing Hindutva in which he defined that all people descended from Hindu culture as being a part of Hindutva, including Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. The noted journalist, Manu Joseph, recently opined, “The erasure of Savarkar by intellectuals 1.0 was so complete that at the end of it all, he was not even a villain. He was not mentioned in textbooks even as one of the accused in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Savarkar’s insight was that Hinduism was a powerful political identity that does not require gods, or even the cow actually, whom he did not love very much, and that Hinduism is a fundamental genetic force in all Indians. In this way, he invented Hindutva.”

The very fact that the revolutionary ideas of Savarkar remain to be missing from our mainstream reading and textbooks, does not allow the discussion on his extreme views in the freedom struggle movement through Hindutva. Vaibhav Purandare, in his book The True Story of the Father of Hindutva reveals Savarkar’s professed hatred for Muslims. In his early years as a revolutionary, Savarkar asked Hindus and Muslims to get along, but eventually, he wished to subdue Muslims.

Earlier this month, on 12th August, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) demanded the DUSU Office be named after Veer Savarkar. Following this, the ABVP and DUSU installed the busts of
V.D. Savarkar, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Bhagat Singh outside the Faculty of Arts in the North Campus and faced criticism, followed by the attack on the statue and smearing black colour on the bust by the National Students’ Union of India.

Shakti Singh, the outgoing President of DUSU, said, “Since the beginning of my term, I was requesting the DU administration for establishing the statues but never got a reply from them. The left-wing forces and the Congress party have always defamed Veer Savarkar. So, I wanted that this issue should be debated so that the youth can know about his contribution to the freedom struggle of the country.”

Madhu Prasad, former Professor of Philosophy, Zakir Hussain College said, “Bhagat Singh believed that the country won’t get freedom unless there is equality. However, the current scenario in this country does not allow debate, discussion, and dissent, and idolising Savarkar is against the essence of freedom.”
While he worked upon reforming and revolting the colonial rule, his extreme positions on Gandhi, Hindu Rashtra, and Muslims bestows him with political exclusion.

Feature Image Credits: Prateek Pankaj for DU Beat

Sriya Rane

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