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Row over entry of RSS ideologues in Kannur University syllabus

Kozhikode: The inclusion of Hindutva ideologues V D Savarkar and M S Golwalkar, as well as another Sangh Parivar hero Deen Dayal Upadhyay, in the updated syllabus of Kannur University’s MA Governance and Politics program, has caused a debate.

On Thursday, opposition student organisations KSU and MSF conducted rallies outside the university, asking that the books be removed from the syllabus and describing it as a covert attempt to ‘saffronize’ education. The syllabus of the MA Governance and Politics course’s third-semester core topic, ‘Themes in Indian Politics,’ includes works by Hindutva mascots.

The program, which is solely given at Brennen College in Thalassery, is one of the varsity’s newly sanctioned courses, having started in November last year. Last month, the syllabus was changed based on recommendations from an expert group, and the main paper ‘Contemporary Political Theory’ was replaced with ‘Themes in Indian Politics.’

Excerpts from texts like ‘Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?’ (V D Savarkar), ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’ (M S Golwalkar: Chapters II, III, and IV extracts), ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ (M S Golwalkar), and ‘Integral Humanism’ (Deendayal Upadhyaya) are included in the new curriculum.

Prof Gopinath Ravindran, the vice-chancellor of Kannur University, dismissed charges of ‘saffronization.’ ‘I don’t know the basics of the controversy because no one who has read the syllabus thoroughly would have raised the allegation,’ he said, adding that many books in the syllabus can be considered anti-Hindutva, such as Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Nationalism,’ Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Is Hatred Essential for Nationalism,’ and Jawaha’s ‘Nationalism and Internationalism and What is Culture.’

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‘I think it is wrong to say that books of Golwalkar or Savarkar, which are the foundational text for the current politics, should not be included for reading. Only by reading their writings can we understand what their views were and the problems in them. I think Golwalkar and Savarkar should be made essential readings in the current times. People will be frightened if they read what is contained in their books. We have to first have an understanding of a thing if we have to support or oppose an idea,’ the vice-chancellor further said.

Books like A K Ramanujan’s ‘Is there an Indian way of thinking,’ Amartya Sen’s ‘Argumentative Indian,’ Kancha Ilaiah’s ‘Why I am not a Hindu,’ Sheldon Pollock’s ‘Ramayana and Political Imagination in India’ and D P Chattopadhyaya’s ‘Lokayata’ are also on the syllabus, according to the vice-chancellor.


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