Saturday, March 2, 2024

For an inclusive syllabus in Delhi University. In solidarity with Kancha Ilaiah’s writings

Thallapelli Praveen

On (proposal of) removing Philosopher Kancha Ilaiah’s books from DU syllabus.

Prof. Kancha Ilaiah, in his article ‘The Rise of Modi’ (Outlook, Dec 27, 2002), argued that Modi will be BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate, in the future and sane OBC Voices like his will be drowned. Today, without any doubt we see exactly the same happening, after Modi coming to the centre as Prime Minister. Citing that ‘the writings of prof. Ilaiah are allegedly being insulting to Hinduims’, the Delhi University Standing Committee on Academic Matters has recommended removing three books of Prof. Ilaiah 1) ‘Why I am not a Hindu’; 2)‘God as Political Philosopher: Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism’; and 3) ‘Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution’. (Buffalo Nationalism might also be included in the list). All these books are taught under the courses ‘Social Exclusion: Theory and Practice’ and Dalit-Bahujan Political Thought for MA students by Professor Sukumar Narayana, in Delhi University.

Why I am not a Hindu book is Prof. Ilaiah’s experience along with that of the Telangana region, with regard to Hindusim and Political Economy. Twenty years after the publication of his book ‘Why I am not a Hindu’ many academicians, students and activists are still reading and writing reviews. One of the last reviews that I read is by Gauri Lankesh where she underlines Ilaiah’s argument like other anti-caste Thinkers, that to understand the political construct of Hindutva it is necessary to understand violence in Hinduism (Bangalore Mirror, June 06, 2016).

God as a political Philosopher is Ilaiah’s PhD. As the title suggest, the book offers the reader to understand theology and spiritualism along with Politics. This book argues about Spiritual Democracy and discards Spiritual Fascism, while establishing that Buddha stood for the former that resulted in the decline of Brahmanism and rise of Buddhism in Buddha’s time. Later Buddhism has spread across the world and is a leading philosophy that has challenged the existing theologies in all manners of political, social and cultural etc. Dr. Ambedkar has said it long back that the debate in India is nothing but the debate between Buddhism and Brahmanism.

Post-Hindu India was originally published in 2009. This book is a sociological study of the Indian Village. In this work, Ilaiah values the labour of the labouring castes and thrusts aside the Brahmanical castes. For example, Chapter 09 of the above mentioned book is ‘Social Smugglers’. In this chapter Ilaiah argues in detail about the social smuggling by the Baniyas ( Komatollu in Telugu). It is of no doubt that the Baniyas have looted the economy, especially the agrarian economy. Majority of the Baniyas and their youth are English educated, in Telugu speaking states. However, in 2017, 8 years after the publication of the chapter, why there is a sudden outrage, instead of 2009? The answers are obvious.

Though universities have never bothered to debate any of his ideas including Spiritual Democracy Vs Spiritual Fascism, his professorship in Osmania University was a testimony to the fact that he upheld the idea of University.

Note: If Prof. Ilaiah’s books are insulting Hinduism, how would Delhi University read the seminal texts and Essays like Castes in India, Annihilation of Caste, Riddles in Hinduism authored by the Philosopher and Boddisatva Babasaheb Dr. BR Ambedkar.

In the standing committee, Dr. Hansraj Suman is apparently a Dalit, who authored the book Dalits and Media (in Hindi). Will Hansraj Suman withdraw his book? It is ironic that a member who has authored a book using the word Dalit is now suggesting that the Dalit word needs to be replaced. Another member Prof. Geeta Bhatt is a known member who acknowledges and affiliates RSS’s ideology. Her twitter is filled with posts on RSS and Hindutva.

Ilaiah has over come many controversies and conspiracies againt him and his writings.

Post Script: Prof. Kancha Ilaiah who rose himself as a Philosopher, from being a shepherd boy: like always will be read widely. Philosophers have never sought the support of the ruling party or government. Delhi University should be ashamed to have not produced a philosopher like kancha Ilaiah. DU itself would be at great loss if it removes his books from the reading list.

Thallapelli Praveen is a PhD candidate in  Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and  current president of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association in JNU.


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