Delhi University’s (DU) standing committee for academic affairs on Wednesday recommended replacement of the word ‘Dalit’ with ‘bahujan’ or ‘ambedkarwadi’ in all the books being taught to students pursuing post-graduation in political science. The committee also recommended the removal of three books by Dalit activist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd from the political science reading list after some members found them “controversial”.
During a standing committee meeting on Wednesday, some members raised objections over the use of “Dalit” word in a course taught by political science department in the varsity. “There is an immense of Dalit word in a course titled ‘Dalit Bahujan Political Thought’ taught by the political science department. We raised objections over it and suggested the department to replace the word with words like “bahujan” or “ambedkarwadi” or “scheduled caste”. We should not be using the word in our syllabi despite Supreme Court’s recent order that we should refrain from using the word Dalit and use scheduled caste instead,” said Hansraj Suman, a standing committee member and chairperson of Delhi University’s SC/ ST/OBC teachers’ forum.
“The writer is known more for his controversies than for his academic contribution. There is no academic value attached to the content of these books. However, we are not restricting anyone from reading it. The books are easily available in markets and online,” said Geeta Bhatt, another committee member.
Commenting on the recommendation, Shepherd, a Hyderabad-based activist, said, “In present scenario, there is no space for plural ideas in universities because of the communal control over the academic councils in many universities. All my books are written with a lot of research and they are being taught in many universities in India and other countries. Despite the Supreme Court dropping a petition seeking ban on one of these three books, how can the Delhi University make such recommendations?”
The head of political science department, Veenu Kukreja, said that she would consider the recommendations and will hold a meeting with her department faculty members.
All departments at DU are revising the syllabi of their postgraduate courses to fit in the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) format. Under the CBCS format, currently being followed at the undergraduate level, students are given a choice to choose from prescribed courses, which are referred as ‘core’, ‘elective’ and ‘open elective’ courses.
The changed syllabi have to first approve by the standing committee and then the suggestions made by them later are sent for an approval to the university’s academic council (AC). The next AC meeting will be held in the last week of November.