Tamil Nadu university removes Arundhati Roy's book on Maoists from syllabus

After a protest by ABVP, a Tamil Nadu university removed Arundhati Roy's book on Maoists 'Walking with the Comrades' from the syllabus. It has been replaced with a book by Padma awardee and naturalist 'My Native Land, Essays on Nature'.

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After a protest by ABVP, a Tamil Nadu university removed Arundhati Roy's book on Maoists 'Walking with the Comrades' from the syllabus. It has been replaced with a book by Padma awardee and naturalist 'My Native Land, Essays on Nature'.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Arundhati Roy’s book on Maoists ‘Walking with the Comrades’ was removed from the English MA syllabus.
  • It was being taught atthe Tirunelveli-based Manonmaniam Sundaranar University’s affiliated colleges.
  • ABVP protested against the book and led to its removal. DMK and CPI(M) have opposed this decision.

A state-run Tamil Nadu university removed Arundhati Roy’s book on Maoists ‘Walking with the Comrades’ from the English MA syllabus after complaints from many and a protest by ABVP. The ABVP and others said that the content was anti-national and that the book glorified the ultras.

The book by Arundhati Roy has been a part of the third semester English MA syllabus from the 2017-18 batch at the Tirunelveli-based Manonmaniam Sundaranar University’s affiliated colleges.

“Last week we got a written complaint from the ABVP. Subsequently, there were a lot of other representations. We received complaints from our syndicate members as well,” MSU’s Vice-Chancellor K Pitchumani told PTI.

A committee was formed including the former chairman of the board of studies who framed the syllabus and the incumbent chief so that senior academicians could deal with the issue.

After complaints about “controversial content” in the book, it was replaced with Padma awardee and naturalist, M Krishnan’s book -- ‘My Native Land, Essays on Nature’ as per the committee’s decision. Krishnan was a naturalist and a pioneer in wildlife photography.

On being questioned, the VC said that the ‘sensitive’ nature of the book probably went ‘unnoticed’ when it was included but that prompt action was taken when complaints were received against the book.

He said that the decision would be approved at a meeting of the university’s Standing Committee of Academic Affairs. He said academics alone were important and not controversy.

What is Arundhati Roy’s book all about?

Arundhati Roy’s book on Maoists named ‘Walking with the Comrades’ records her time from her visits to the forests in Chhattisgarh which were the hideouts of Maoists and the way they operated out of the jungles.

The interactions between her and the Maoists were first published in an English magazine in 2010 and were later published as a book.

ABVP’s call to remove book from syllabus

The ABVP’s south Tamil Nadu unit alleged in their complaint that Roy’s book openly supported Maoists and disseminated anti-national views.

“It is a matter of regret that this book has been part of the syllabus for the past three years. Through this, the Naxal and Maoist ideology has been imposed on the students,” the ABVP said as per PTI while demanding the book’s withdrawal.

The opposition stance

On the other hand, the opposition parties of DMK and CPI(M) have opposed the decision to remove the book from the syllabus.

DMK youth wing secretary and MP Kanimozhi tweeted on the same, saying that politics deciding “what the students should read” was destroying society’s pluralistic feature.

CPI(M) Lok Sabha member S Venkatesan also tweeted on the matter, condemning the removal of Arundhati Roy’s book.

The general secretary of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artistes Association, Aadhavan Dheetchanya announced a virtual protest meet on Thursday evening to oppose this decision to remove the book.

(With inputs from PTI)

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