Kancha Ilaiah is an Indian political theorist, writer and activist for Dalit rights. He writes in both English and Telugu. A number of his books have been included in the curriculum all across the University of Delhi’s Political Science department.
A few days back, on October 25th, at least four members of DU’s standing committee on academic matters sought removal of three books by the social activist — ‘Why I am not a Hindu’; ‘God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism’; and ‘Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution’, from the M.A. course, claiming it to be “divisive” , “derogatory towards the Hindu faith” and also “vitriolic” towards Hindus.
Slamming the move, Ilaiah said, “This shows there is no freedom for making syllabus in universities.” Professor Kancha Ilaiah provides a counter-narrative to the dominant politico-cultural thoughts. If the university system is not allowed to engage with contrarian ideas, then that will be the end of the quest for knowledge. Ilaiah said his ‘Why I am Not a Hindu’ was taught in several universities in the West and India. In his books, Ilaiah challenges the discreet and prudent ideas about nation, society and culture.
However, DU sidelined these suggestions and has maintained the status quo. “We stand by the past courses we have taught, as we had sent them earlier. The books will also continue to be used. These were very carefully considered readings which were given for these courses, and these are readings which are used all over the country and world. They are part of standing academic discourse, so there’s no question of selectively picking on them,” said associate professor Madhulika Banerjee.