Outspoken writer-activist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd has strongly criticised reports that Delhi University’s Standing Committee on Academic Matters has recommended removing three of his books from the university’s political science syllabus, on Wednesday. The committee also suggested discontinuing the use of the word “Dalit.”
Following a discussion on nine Masters' courses at the university, committee member Professor Hansraj Suman reportedly said, “We decided to remove the books ‘Why I am not a Hindu,’ ‘Buffalo Nationalism’ and ‘Post-Hindu India’ because they are insulting to Hinduism. We felt it would not be appropriate for students to read it.”
The proposal still needs to be approved by the AC before DU can move forward with the decision, according to reports.
But speaking to TNM, Prof Kancha called the recommendations a “deliberate ploy” by the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and BJP “to completely control the academic freedom and to impose their one-dimensional thinking."
He further noted that Delhi University has included his writing in their syllabus for a decade. “Why is it that they're wanting a ban now? Because they don't want production communities such as Sudra, Dalit-Adivasis to be empowered. This is a plan to not to allow plural ideas."
He also alleged that the same people who want his books to be removed from the DU syllabus are the same ones who objected when Columbia University took his "Why I am not a Hindu" in 2012.
Prof Kancha saw the committee’s recommendation as a threat to academia. "Now they want to ban Kancha Ilaiah. Gradually they will demand a ban on [Dr] Ambedkar’s books as they discuss Dalits and the oppression they faced."
Ilaiah has also condemned the suggestion to discontinue the word “Dalit” in academia. "RSS is afraid of my writings as the Sudra and OBC cadre are reading, and are influenced by them."
A member of the Kuruma (Other Backward Class) community, Prof Kancha Ilaiah is a well-known academic and activist who added the suffix "Shepherd" to his name. His writing has often been the subject of controversy as right-wing groups have alleged that his views are insulting to Hinduism. Last year, an excerpt from his 2009 book "Post Hindu India" triggered violent protests from the Vaishya community.