Whether it is web shows, movies or advertisements, we are in the season of boycotts and bans. The latest addition to this ever-growing list is Arundhati Roy’s book Walking With the Comrades.
The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli city on Wednesday decided to withdraw the book from its syllabus following a complaint from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, reported The Hindu.
Tamil Nadu university includes Arundhati Roy’s pro-Maoist literature in syllabus: ABVP urges the university to withdraw the book - @eOrganiser
— ABVP (@ABVPVoice) November 11, 2020
The book based on Roy’s visit to Maoist camps was part of the university’s postgraduate English syllabus since 2017. “A committee comprising academic deans and board of studies members had considered the complaint and decided to withdraw the book as it may be inappropriate to teach a controversial book for students,” Vice Chancellor K Pitchumani told The Indian Express. The book was removed and replaced with a few essays from naturalist M Krishnan’s My Native Land: Essays on Nature.
“The book was included in the syllabus in 2017. It was only a week ago that it was brought to our notice that Ms Roy had glorified Maoists. So we formed a committee to discuss the issue and the panel recommended its withdrawal,” Pitchumani added.
— scroll.in (@scroll_in) November 12, 2020
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Dakshin Tamil Nadu Joint Secretary C Vignesh filed a complaint with the university authorities accusing the book of “openly supporting the killing fields and riots by the anti-national Maoists”, according to The Hindu. He said it was regrettable that Maoist and Naxal ideas had been imposed on the students for the last three years.
“The teachers also taught an anti-national subject. Students are subjected to mental agony as the book encourages hatred against our country,” he said, demanding its removal from the syllabus and an apology from the university.
Acting on objections from the ABVP, the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli has withdrawn noted writer Arundhati Roy’s book, Walking with the Comrades, from its postgraduate English syllabus @kolappan https://t.co/iZq7SPeBo6
— The Hindu - Chennai (@THChennai) November 12, 2020
The DMK and the CPI (M) condemned the decision. “It is an attempt to saffronise education and a mindset against alternate views,” DMK deputy general secretary and former Minister, A Raja said. He pointed out that this was an attempt to brand ideological opponents as Urban Naxals and anti-Indians. “Actually, the communal forces are against the pluralistic nature of the country. Students have to learn and unlearn about Hitler and Idi Amin, and such efforts would improve their intelligence,” he added.
DMK women’s wing leader and MP Kanimozhi put it very simply, stating, “If politics is going to decide what is art, literature, culture and curriculum, it is very dangerous for a pluralistic society.” CPI (M) MP Su. Venkatesan demanded the withdrawal of the decision to remove the book, asserting that curriculum should be decided only by the syllabus committee, standing committee and the senate of the university.
Social media users pointed out that university is about being open to all points of view and then deciding for oneself.
University is supposed to provide open environment to read and debate everything. Doesn't matter if you agree to it or not. It is important to at least listen to other points of view. Refute it in good faith if you do not believe it. Removing is just cowardly.
— Citizen (@TCDev) November 12, 2020
Justice DY Chandrachud was quoted, “if you don’t like the book, don’t read it.”
If you don't like this book,
And don't write paper
But why remove,
— लिबर्टी 🏹 (@Shubham_math) November 12, 2020
If you don't like Walking with Comrades leave them. No one is compelling u. SC taught me
— Suresh Kumar (@SureshKumar0687) November 12, 2020
Education shouldn’t be governed by politics and students should be allowed a free exchange of all ideas. Only through debate and discussion should one discard or adopt ideas, not by boycotts and bans. The hostility towards certain ideas enforced through strong diktats will only leave our education system poorer.