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India: A K Ramanujan works and Romila Thapar’s essay on the "itihaas-purana tradition" dropped from new Delhi University syllabus

20 May 2013

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Indian Express

Ramanujan works dropped from new DU syllabus

Aditi Vatsa : New Delhi, Sun May 19 2013

As part of its shift to the four-year format for undergraduate students, Delhi University has dropped the works of scholar A K Ramanujan whose "controversial" essay titled Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five examples and Three Thoughts on Translation was removed from the History syllabus last year for "hurting religious sentiments".

Two works by Ramanujan, Speaking of Shiva and an essay co-authored by Vinay Dharwadker, featured in the syllabus for English. "Speaking of Shiva was prescribed for a paper on Indian Classical Literature, while his essay was given as background reading for another course called Indian writing in English," Rudrashish Chakraborty, who teaches English at Kirorimal College, said.

The essay from Ramanujan’s Speaking of Shiva was one of the readings required for a section on Kannada poets Dasimayya and Vasavanna in the Indian classical literature paper.

"This section was dropped at the standing committee meeting which took place before the last academic council meeting. It has been replaced by Sangam literature. The argument given for dropping the section was that it was more essential to study Sangam literature in a paper on Indian classical literature," an Academic Council member said.

The other essay by Ramanujan did not reach the Academic Council’s (AC) deliberation stage. The text was on the agenda during the Faculty of Arts meeting, where the English curriculum was discussed before reaching the Academic Council, but it was missing from the AC agenda, Chakraborty said.

Asked about these changes, Sumanyu Sathpathy, the head of English department said: "There were no political and ideological reasons for dropping these texts. The changes were made because of strong academic reasons. It was argued in the Standing Committee meeting that since the paper was on classical Indian literature, it made more sense to have Sangam literature."

Other works scrapped from the new syllabus include Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines, Romila Thapar’s essay on the "itihaas-purana tradition" (both from English syllabus), and Economic History of India. Ghosh’s novel was deemed to be too complex for first-year students, while teachers said the book set to replace Economic History of India is not as comprehensive.