Obsolete ideas

The objections raised by the Syndicate members of Kuvempu University to the inclusion of non-western writings in the English literature syllabus are simply unacceptable. Writings of eminent litterateurs like Girish Karnad and Vaidehi have been shot down as have essays by noted development journalist P Sainath and political psychologist and social theorist Ashish Nandy. The members’ quarrel with the writings of Karnad and Vaidehi stems from their deeply flawed understanding of English literature.  Have they not heard that some of the best writings in English in the past few decades have come from non-Western countries? Have they not read or at least heard of the works of Chinua Achebe or Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Mahashweta Devi that have been critically acclaimed the world over? These writers have contributed immensely to the evolution of English literature. The members seem to have a colonial mindset. They seem to believe it is only the Englishman who knows how to write in English or is capable of communicating in the best English. They should shake themselves free of such ossified and obsolete thinking.

 As disturbing is their objection to essays by Sainath and Nandy. Sainath’s article makes a passing reference to the BJP/Shiv Sena government’s decision to drop cases of atrocities against the Dalits. The Syndicate members with obvious political and caste affiliations want nothing that questions the status quo. English departments the world over have included writings that question apartheid, racism and gender discrimination. They are keen to have their students explore literature that reflects the alienation of immigrants and the anger of the dispossessed. Sadly, we are reluctant to examine memoirs or poetry that examines or reflects the anguish of disenfranchised groups like the Dalits. The members are not only procedurally incorrect in meddling with the syllabus, but the substance of their objections is untenable. Education must broaden the vision of our students, expose them to cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary influences and encourage them to question ideas. But the members prefer literature that is divorced from the socio-political realities. They are seeking to put young minds in intellectual, ideological and cultural strait jackets. They must not be allowed to do so.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry