Kancha Ilaiah: Are my books being removed from DU as I questioned Modi’s OBC credentials?

Dalit writer-activist Kancha Ilaiah alleges that his books are being removed from DU because the BJP-RSS government doesn’t want the Shudra communities to become empowered

Photo by M Zhazo/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by M Zhazo/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

Several organisations and writer-activist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd has strongly criticised the decision of Delhi University’s Standing Committee on Academic Affairs to remove three books by Dalit academic and activist Kancha Ilaiah from its political science syllabus for post-graduate students.

The committee had alleged that the books were “insulting to Hinduism”. The final decision will be taken by DU’s Academic Council (AC), which will hold its meeting before November 15.

Following a discussion on nine Masters' courses at the university, Committee member Professor Hansraj Suman said, “We decided to remove the books ‘Why I am not a Hindu’, ‘God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s challenge to Brahminism’, and ‘Post-Hindu India’ because they are insulting to Hinduism. We felt it would not be appropriate for students to read it.”

Annoyed by this decision, Kancha Ilaiah said, “Recently, I wrote an essay on ‘Where are the Shudras?’, where I have proved that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not a Shudra/OBC as he has claimed. In the run-up to the 2014 elections, Narendra Modi told the nation he is an OBC, and as a result, a lot of OBCs voted for him thinking that he is a Shudra- OBC like any other OBC. But he is not. He represents the baniyas, and not the Shudra-OBC. In Gujarat, UP and Bihar, several baniya communities have managed to take OBC certificates. The Shudra community of north India, particularly Patels, Jats, Gujjars, Marathas are demanding reservation and want to be part of the larger OBC community, but the Modi government is suppressing them, but not extending the reservation facilities to them.”

“Narendra Modi, Amit Shah duo are ruling Delhi with the full support of the baniya industrialists. The entire Shudras need to unite and overthrow the Baniya-Brahmin hegemony and control in Delhi. This essay has annoyed the Modi circle and now they are going after my books,” said Ilaiah.

Kancha Ilaiah asserted that the committee members who have opposed his books had not read any of them. “In fact, God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s challenge to Brahminism, which is my Ph.D thesis, is the ultimate nationalist book,” said Kancha Ilaiah

Ilaiah asserted that the committee members who have opposed his books had not read any of them. “In fact, God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s challenge to Brahminism, which is my Ph.D thesis, is the ultimate nationalist book. Why Am I not a Hindu, known as a classic, is being taught in many universities around the world. The same Hindutva people tried to oppose the teaching of Why Am I not a Hindu in Columbia University in 2012, but they did not succeed. Now, they are attempting it once again in Delhi,” pointed out Ilaiah.

“The book ‘Post-Hindu India’ is a result of my 10-year research on Shudra/OBC/Dalit/Adivasi communities. My books are not like the books of VD Savarkar, Golwalkar and any other Hindutva writer who writes from imagination. Some time ago, in JNU, Why I am not a Hindu?, Mahatma Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj, BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste were studied as comparative texts. Mahatma Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj is also not a reference book. Do the BJP-RSS people also want to remove that book from India? What are they up to? They want to destroy teaching of plural ideas in Indian Universities. They want to make Indian higher education subservient to American and European Universities, which I am opposed to,” emphasised Ilaiah.

He noted that Delhi University has included his writing in their syllabus for a decade. “Why is it that they're wanting a ban now? Because they don't want production communities such as Shudras, Dalit and Adivasis to be empowered. This is a plan to not to allow plural ideas."

The All India Students’ Association’s (AISA’s) DU president Kawalpreet Kaur said: “Any Dalit assertion which challenges the Hindu establishment is seen as not worthy of being taught in today’s India. University must be a place where opposing ideas are debated, discussed and challenged.”

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