More than 100 English teachers at DU have responded to the Registrar’s statement on the English program
More than 100 Delhi University English professors have objected to ‘multiple lies and misrepresentations’ in Registrar Vikas Gupta’s statement on the course curriculum, which he said was ‘inclusive’ and had been submitted to a “democratic process”.
Gupta’s statement had come in response to criticism over DU’s Oversight Committee (OC) decision to remove two Dalit authors – Bama and Sukirtharani – and renowned author Mahasweta Devi’s short story “Draupadi” from the English curriculum. of the fifth semester.
108 teachers from 41 colleges, including those serving on the subcommittees responsible for developing the English curriculum, demanded the “reinstatement of the works of Mahasweta Devi, Bama and Sukirtharani in the Semester V Core Women’s Writing Paper” .
“It is ironic that the University’s statement purports to support an inclusive agenda, when in fact it has done everything in its power to EXCLUDE diverse voices. Moreover, those who have been excluded are already members of a historically excluded community. The voices that have been strangled are those of Dalit and non-Dalit women writers who write about Dalit/Tribal women,” they said in a statement.
They also criticized the Registrar for saying the program was “designed by the English Department” and “finalized” after “appropriate deliberations and recommendations” from the head of the department, and alleged that HoD approval was “obtained by coercion”.
When contacted, Gupta said the information in the press release was “100% correct according to the available facts”.
A teacher who signed the statement said it was only signed by permanent teachers because ad hoc teachers feared persecution by the administration.
The teachers further claimed, “On July 19, 2021, less than 24 hours before the start of classes, the oversight committee arbitrarily recommended that Mahasweta Devi’s ‘Draupadi’ be removed with a new alternative to be suggested by the department which will be reviewed by the Oversight Committee accordingly.” The English Department…responded twice to the Oversight Committee giving full academic and pedagogical reasons why it was unwilling to replace this story.
“The University refused to accept our rejection of their ‘recommendation’ and held the English department to ransom by not notifying its BA (Hons) English Semester V program on the website by September 1, 2021 (44th day of the V semester, a week after the Registrar’s press release),” they said.
Teachers said the ‘order to remove’ Draupadi was again sent to the HoD on August 9, and on August 10 the English department, ‘under duress, replaced the iconic Mahasweta Devi story’ Draupadi” by an alternate history – “The Hunt” by the same author”.
“On August 11, 2021, he was informed that the Chairman of the Oversight Committee had ideological objections to any Mahasweta Devi story and insisted on the inclusion of a story from an arbitrary list of six alternatives. On 17 August 2021, HOD had a meeting with the Oversight Committee where they finally had to accept one of the stories suggested by the CO to end the impasse, so that the fifth semester program would be officially notified and that students’ academic careers/lives would not be jeopardized,” the teachers said.
HoD Raj Kumar confirmed that he gave his approval to the changes only because the program was “held for months”.
“It is clear that there has been a complete mockery of all the democratic and due processes that were used to write the program: the final agreement of the HOD was obtained by what we believe to be coercion, that too without the necessary endorsement from the curriculum sub-committees or more importantly, the WBG of English Teachers who initiated the democratic development of the curriculum in the first place,” the teachers said.