By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  A day after controversy erupted over the exclusion of works by two Dalit writers and a short story by Mahasweta Devi from its English syllabus, Delhi University’s administration insisted that the criticism was “misplaced and unfounded”.

DU’s oversight committee had removed two Dalit feminist writers — Bama and Sukhirtharini — from the women’s writing course and dropped an acclaimed short story called Draupadi by Mahasweta Devi from its BA English syllabus.

Fifteen members of the university’s academic council had on Wednesday submitted a note of dissent to the university administration, calling these changes arbitrary and “casteist”.

“A careful perusal of the present syllabus clearly brings out the inclusive nature of the syllabus under reference in terms of its diversity of content and inclusion of pioneering works of various renowned scholars of both national and international fame without consideration of their religion, caste and creed as, according to the university, excellence in academia is not subservient to these attributes,” said a DU statement, signed by registrar Vikas Gupta.

Following the statement, Abha Dev Habib, treasurer of Delhi University Teachers’ Association, said defence of the oversight committee is evidence that the administration is complicit in unethical and unacademic chopping of authors.

“It is a matter of extreme shame and concern that the oversight committee comprising senior academics has become an instrument to impose censorship on courses and readings as per the diktat of RSS-BJP,” she said.

Three other members of the academic council issued a statement saying that classroom space should be sensitive to social, economic and cultural diversities of places students come from and that includes a curriculum with representation to the marginal voices.