Statement of Opposition Against the Vice-Chancellors Decision to Drop Such A Long Journey from the SYBA English Syllabus of Mumbai University
Governor of Maharashtra (Chancellor of the University of Mumbai)
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Please find included in this email is a letter that has been drafted to express dissent with the manner in which the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mumbai has flouted administrative procedures and bypassed academic bodies to omit a novel from the syllabus of English Literature for SYBA in response to pressure from a political group.
It is addressed to the Governor of Maharashtra, who is the Chancellor of the University and copies will be marked to the VC and to the Chairman of the University Grants Commission.
If you strongly feel that voices of dissent need to emerge against the shrinking democratic spaces within the university and the city of Mumbai in general, then please lend your support by endorsing the statement and signing the letter, and replying to the person who has sent you the email so that signatures can be collated.
Please feel free to forward this to friends and colleagues who will be interested, and get back to me when you get signatures from them, latest by Wednesday the 13th of October, 2010.
The Governor of Maharashtra,
The Vice Chancellor,
University of Mumbai,
The Chairman of the University Grants Commission,
Subject: Statement of Opposition Against the Vice-Chancellors Decision to Drop Such A Long Journey from the SYBA English Syllabus of Mumbai University
We, the undersigned condemn the undemocratic manner in which Rohintion Mistrys novel Such A Long Journey has been omitted from the Second Year Bachelor of Arts (SYBA) English Literature syllabus of the University of Mumbai.
We are disturbed and alarmed by the manner in which the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr. Rajan Welukar, bowed down to the demands of the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (the student wing of the Shiv Sena) and had the novel dropped from the syllabus overnight, purely on account of the groups displeasure with anti Shiv Sena passages; derogatory references to Mumbais dabbawalas, the Marathi Manoos and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru; and extremely obscene and vulgar language in its text.
While we do not deny that the BVS and its supporters have every right to be outraged by the contents of the novel, we strongly oppose the means which they have chosen to express their dissent, which includes burning copies of the book and the issuing of ultimatums not only for the VC to omit the text from the syllabus within 24 hours, but also to exclude the professors who included to text in the syllabus from any university work in the future. Furthermore, being keenly aware of the immense bureaucracy involved in the decision-making processes of the University, we question the nature of the administrative process which led to the book being dropped from the syllabus and demand that the details of the said proceedings be made public.
Lastly, in the interest of upholding the democratic principles enshrined within the Indian Constitution, we demand that the novel be reinstated in the syllabus and urge the BVS and its supporters to initiate healthy and democratic debate regarding whether it deserves a place in the syllabus or not.
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