On Wednesday, the head of Delhi University’s English department, Christel R Devadawson, called a General Body Meeting (GBM) to discuss the modified Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) syllabus.
The move came in response to a letter sent to Devadawson – and signed by 126 teachers – requesting a meeting on the issue.
The letter, which was circulated in the DU teachers’s email group on April 27, begins: “There is a serious participatory deficit in the process that finalised the proposed syllabus.”
You can find a copy of the letter at the end of the article.
Over a mere 5 days, 126 teachers from 42 colleges signed up. On Wednesday, after the request for the meeting was met, a DU English professor described it with enthusiasm as “a most welcome move!”
But why the interest in holding a meeting on the issue? Why the sudden clamour to get things in order? Could it be the inclusion of mass favourite Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling novel Five Point Someone in the syllabus?
“Chetan Bhagat Has Not Been a Factor”
About 10 days ago, the new syllabus under DU’s two-year-old CBCS was announced. A number of new elective courses were introduced. But the one that created the most controversy? The inclusion of Bhagat’s Five Point Someone in the ‘Popular Fiction’ course. The latter is offered to students of other disciplines (not those studying English honours) – but it still had students and teachers alike in bit of a confused daze. Does Bhagat fit the paradigm of popular fiction? Should he be taught? Why weren’t other choices debated? Etcetera, etcetera.
But the signatories on the letter are quick to dispel the Chetan Bhagat hype.
Hany Babu MT, Associate Professor, Delhi UniversityThis letter isn’t about any specific course or text. It’s about the general process – nothing specific.
Reiterates Sachin N, Assistant Professor of English at Dyal Singh College and – according to most of the signatories – one of the most vocal voices in this campaign:
Chetan Bhagat is what the media is after. Yes, he should be debated at the GBM – just like any other text. I would personally like to dissect his phenomenon in class. But he won’t be the only point of discussion. We’ll ask for justifications about why one text has been chosen over another; why one has been excluded at the cost of another.
What, then, is the point of contention for 126 (so far) professors of English in DU?
The CBCS committee that decided the syllabus – we don’t know who was in the committee (although we’ve got some idea), when it was constituted. Normally, syllabus revision is not an everyday exercise, right? So they should’ve given a call to all teachers who teach this syllabus in their colleges. We didn’t know why some teachers were included and some weren’t. They didn’t deem it fit to invite all colleges to have a say.
Sachin calls the CBCS system “bad in conception, practice and execution”, but does add that the response of the HOD so far has been “very positive”.
As for Chetan Bhagat, the professors The Quint spoke to have insisted “he’s not been a factor in starting this campaign”, but it will still be interesting to see whether Five Point Someone is tabled or not after the meeting.
Here is the body of the letter that The Quint accessed: