In Rajya Sabha, BJP MP Harinath Singh Yadav had asked whether the book of Pakistani author is being taught in Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia or any other educational institution in the country and whether action should be considered against the persons responsible for this.
New Delhi: More than 250 teachers of universities and eminent scholars of the country have objected to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha on 22 March 2023. The said question was related to ‘running a book by a Pakistani author in an educational institution of the country’.
As per reports, a joint statement has been issued by teachers and scholars condemning this kind of ‘censorship’. The signatories include eminent historians Romila Thapar, Professor Satish Deshpande, Professor Apoorvanand, Professor Ayesha Kidwai, Professor Nandini Sundar, Professor Partha Chatterjee, Professor Zoya Hasan.
“Students should be educated to recognize what is considered ‘offensive’ and ‘objectionable’ and to respond to it with reason, rather than simply refusing to hear it, or allowing it to happen,” the signatories said. Even worse, it should be considered a crime, in which the threat of censorship and violence is also attached.
Let us inform that the question in question was asked by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Harinath Singh Yadav and came on the table of Rajya Sabha on March 22, 2023.
His question was, ‘Has the government taken cognizance of the fact that a book by a Pakistani author is being taught in Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia or any other educational institution in the country and its language is derogatory towards Indian citizens and that also supports terrorism; If so, the details thereof, and whether the government should consider examining the contents of the textbooks written by the said Pakistani author and taking action against those responsible for the same?’
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had sent a letter to university registrars and central universities on March 16 seeking information about the said question, which was to be answered in the Rajya Sabha.
Now the joint statement of the academicians said that the question was asked in a ‘deliberately vague’ manner without mentioning information about the author and the book.
The statement said, ‘Surely this is not just an error? Mentioning the book without naming it suggests reading the question in such a way that any book by any Pakistani author that could possibly be read as ‘offensive to Indian citizens’ and ‘endorsing terrorism’ would be rejected. Should not have taught in any Indian University; Teaching any such book will lead to punitive action and possibly criminal charges against the teachers.
The signatories said that such ‘threats of punishment’ prevent discussion or dialogue about the textbooks selected for a particular course.
The statement said, ‘It seems that a teacher must agree with all the arguments of the specified text. But teachers don’t present words—especially fiction or even historical accounts—as if they were ultimate truth. It is often the case that courses are designed to expose students to different historical and cultural perspectives, especially in the humanities and social sciences. Our role as teachers is to encourage students to discuss, question and learn about these approaches, not to uncritically endorse or encourage them to follow.’
It further stated, ‘The government can best fulfill its constitutional mandate and create a democratic space by promoting the autonomy of educational institutions, empowering faculty and encouraging debate, critical thought and discussion on all possible topics’ Is. The best way to do this is to expose students to as wide a collection of resources as possible, including books, articles and films.’
Also, the statement described such a question as an attempt to link specific Muslim institutions like Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia with ‘terrorism’.
(Click here to read the full statement.)
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Categories: Campus, Politics, Special