Attempt to Ban My Books in DU Part of RSS-BJP Agenda to Not Allow Plural Ideas, Says Kancha Ilaiah
The academic said while teachers had the right to ask for what they want to teach, asking for removal of other books that they did not agree with was 'anti-academic and destructive'.
File photo of writer Kancha Ilaiah.
New Delhi: Academic Kancha Ilaiah has hit back at some members of the Delhi University’s (DU) academic council who want three of his books removed from the political science syllabus for being “vitriolic towards Hindu faith”.
In a statement, Ilaiah said the demand was an “unfortunate, anti-academic attempt, which is part of the larger RSS-BJP agenda to not allow plural ideas to be taught in universities”.
The issue came up during the meeting of the Delhi University Standing Committee for Academic Affairs on Wednesday, where it was recommended that the academic’s three books — ‘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’ — be dropped from the MA course.
Council member professor Geeta Bhatt, who was among the teachers demanding that the books be removed, had told News18 that “Ilaiah’s understanding of Hindu faith is wrong and there is no empirical data to establish his understanding”.
Reacting to Bhatt’s remarks, Ilaiah said, “While saying so, the right-wing academicians have not shown the basic academic ethic of reading my books.”
He said ‘God as Political Philosopher: Buddha's Challenge to Brahminism’ was his PhD thesis, which was heavily referenced and had nothing to with Hindu faith. He also explained that ‘Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution’ was “based on a massive data base from the village communities’ production knowledge and scientific experimentation process of various productive communities”.
“Those who do not have any understanding of village production relations hardly understand that book. Unless they get back to village life and study the production relations and then say it is anti-something or the other, it does not make sense,” he said in his statement, adding that “they cannot rubbish my research work of 10 long years”.
Ilaiah said his ‘Why I am Not a Hindu’ was taught in several universities in the West and India. “The Hindutva forces are opposing teaching and reading of this book in many countries — including in the Columbia University. Scholars such as Lise McKean, Linda Hess, Eliza Kent etc recommend it as an introduction-level reading material on Hinduism. The Hindutva forces opposed but they did not succeed in removing it,” he said.
“The same forces are asking for inclusion of Savarkar’s book ‘Hindutva-Who is a Hindu?’ and Golwalkar’s book ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ in the universities. Are these books referenced? Is there empirical data in these books?” he asked.
Ilaiah said while the teachers had the right to ask for what they want to teach, asking for removal of other books that they did not agree with was “anti-academic and destructive”.
“Universities are meant for teaching and debating diversified ideas, concepts. Hundreds of thoughts must clash there. Universities are not theological institutes where only one religious idea is taught,” he said.
He also appealed to the ministry of human resource development to not allow this kind of “destructive un-academic processes in DU and also in other universities”. “I appeal to the academic fraternity to fight this trend in the nation and protect the academic freedom and autonomy,” he added.
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