DU removes ‘controversial’ essay from history syllabus

The Delhi University Academic Council on Sunday decided to do away with a “controversial” essay by scholar A K Ramanujan taught to History students,even as teachers,including the head of History department at the University protested over the issue.

Written by Nandini Thilak | New Delhi | Published:October 10, 2011 2:12 am

The Delhi University Academic Council on Sunday decided to do away with a “controversial” essay by scholar A K Ramanujan taught to History students,even as teachers,including the head of History department at the University protested over the issue.

The essay: Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five examples and Three Thoughts on Translation,which forms part of the syllabus for BA (Hons) History students,had become part of a court litigation with the allegation that portions of it hurt sentiments of Hindus and were blasphemous.

The Supreme Court had in July 2010 asked the University to constitute an expert committee to look into the matter and submit its report before the Academic Council for a decision.

The expert committee of four members comprised historians of repute whose names have not been made public. While three of them had unanimously upheld the academic merit of the essay,one raised an objection on the ground that it was unsuitable for under-graduate students,said Dr R C Thakran,Head of the Department of History.

“I cannot understand the decision to remove the reading based on the objection of one expert. The History department’s position has consistently been that it should be retained,” he said.

The course has been part of the syllabus for more than five years,Dr Thakran said.

DU Vice Chancellor Dr Dinesh Singh said removal of the essay was only a technical matter,as it was not part of the syllabi for the students.

“When the History syllabus was prepared in 2005,there were two sets made. One to be taught till 2009,which contained this book,and another to be taught from 2009,which does not include it. The whole issue is redundant but since a resolution has to be communicated to the Supreme Court tomorrow,the decision was made,” he said.

Ramanujan’s article will now be replaced by two essays — one by historian Romila Thapar and another by R S Sharma.

Academic Council member Dr Sheo Dutt said that nine members of the AC had objected to the move and submitted a written dissent. In it they said political affiliations of AC members had lead to the decision to scrap the essay from the syllabus.

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