Section Of DU Teachers Condemn NDTF’s Statement Over English Syllabus

New Delhi, Sep 13: Over 125 English teachers of Delhi University have condemned the statement made by right wing teachers’ group, the National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), over the English syllabus. The NDTF, in a statement issued last week, had said they “fully support” the changes made to the English syllabus of the fifth semester BA honours course of the university. The group, which is backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, had also demanded that the DU administration “scan” all other syllabi of the English Department in order to remove similar “demeaning” references.

In their statement, they had also said that “Leftists” spread “false propaganda that many Dalit writers have been removed”. DU’s Oversight Committee (OC) had removed the works of two Dalit authors, Bama and Sukhirtharani, as well as renowned author Mahasweta Devi’s short story “Draupadi” from the English syllabus.

“The statement in the most unspecific, unsubstantiated way accuses the entire team of syllabus makers as being driven by the ideology and politics of ‘Leftists’. We would like to point out that after our General Body Meeting, there had been an open call for the creation of committees and each and every teacher who expressed an interest was welcomed and included,” the statement by English teachers read. More than 150 teachers participated in the framing of the syllabus, many others gave valuable suggestions of particular texts and readings, and even more responded with feedback, which came college department wise, it said.

At each point, participants brought to the meetings an academic rigour that comes from years of research and reading, the statement said, adding, “To reduce this to ‘Leftist ideology’ is to denigrate the work of so many different teachers who came together without personal, political biases.” They reiterated that there was never a political criterion in the entire exercise, and for the “NDTF to thus accuse us, is malicious and ill intentioned”. The NDTF had said that it is an unfortunate fact that a section of teachers in the English Department exploited academic autonomy and freedom in an attempt to denigrate and demonise Hinduism and the ancient civilisation to perpetuate animosity between social castes, to encourage militant Maoism and Naxalism amongst tribals, etc.

The English teachers said, “Further, in the NDTF’s causeless invoking of Hinduism and the dangers to it from Devi’s story is every attempt to silence Draupadi, who remains one of Hindu mythology’s most powerful women characters. In excluding a reading of Draupadi’s revenge upon her perpetrators lies the fear of strong, powerful women who valiantly defy men and fight the patriarchy.” Calling the NDTF’s statement “ignorant” and full of “prejudicial intent” they said that the NDTF wants to create “disharmony” and “polarisation” among teachers.

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