A question about caste in a second semester MA History exam paper at Salem’s Periyar University in Tamil Nadu has sparked a controversy in the state, prompting the university to say that it will set up an enquiry committee to look into the lapse.
The controversial question appeared in the 75-mark MA History Degree exam paper. Under Part A, ‘Freedom Movement in Tamil Nadu from 1880 CE to 1947 CE’, 15 multiple choice questions of 1 mark each were listed. Alongside questions like when was East India Company founded in India, which year was the Vernacular Press Act introduced etc was question number 11: “Which one is the lower caste belongs to Tamil Nadu (sic)?”
Netizens slammed the college authorities for setting up a question paper at a university that was named after Dravidian ideologue Periyar, who fought for eradication of caste.
The state higher education department said it would form a committee under a chief officer and hold an enquiry. “Due action would be initiated on behalf of the department against the wrongdoers,” a press release from the department said. Meanwhile, the university said it was planning to set up an enquiry committee.
“When we enquired, the teachers who prepared this question said that it is part of the syllabus. This could have been avoided,” D Gopi, the registrar of the university, told indianexpress.com, adding that the questions were prepared by staff members from another college.
“Based on the orders of the vice-chancellor, a committee would be formed comprising history teaching staff. Departmental action would be initiated against the staff members based on the recommendation of the committee,” Gopi said.
The leader of opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami took to Twitter and asked whether ridiculing the ideology of Periyar and promoting caste inequality among students through questions like these in a semester examination is DMK’s Dravidian model and social justice.