Removing our works is a political move to suppress dalit voice : Bama


Our Correspondent

Bama Faustina Soosairaj I File Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kozhikode: Tamil dalit writer bama has termed the move by Delhi University to remove literary works of writers including herself , Mahashweta Devi and Sukirtharani from the English syllabus as unilateral and politically motivated. 'Our books and works have been translated and taught in various colleges and universities. Mahasweta Devi's work, 'Draupadi', and the poems of Sukirtharani were also removed from the university syllabus. If they remove the Dalit works, then they should have replaced them with other Dalit pieces of literature. They have completely disregarded the Dalit writers and Dalit literature,' Bama Faustina Soosairaj said in an exclusive chat with Mathrubhumi.com.

Bama's autobiographical book, 'Karukku', which was withdrawn by the university, is a Dalit feministic work that describes the plight of Christian Dalit women in Tamil Nadu. Since its release in 1992, the book was, translated, and discussed in the literary sphere. Her other work 'Sangathi', was also removed from the syllabus.

'I had no idea that my work was rejected. They blindly removed it without notifying me. At first, I thought it was only Karukku, which was removed. Later only, I came to know that my second novel Sangathi was removed as well,' she added. The move to remove these works was made in a meeting held on Tuesday, by the University's Oversight Committee, despite the protest from the 15 elected members of the Academic Council.

Several media houses have also reported that the teachers from the English department expressed surprise at the decision made by the council, which doesn't have any representative from the English department other than the department head. The dissent note sent by the 15 elected representatives of the academic council also pointed out that the decision made by the oversight Committee was to first replace the writings of Bama and Sukirtharani with those of 'upper caste writer Ramabai'.

Later the committee decided to remove the work of Mahasweta Devi's Draupadi as well. 'The Committee as an afterthought suddenly asked the English department to delete the celebrated short story of Mahasweta Devi, Draupadi, a story about a tribal woman, without giving any academic logic,' the dissent note read. The dissent note also stated that the committee refused to accept any of the short stories by the Mahasweta Devi.

Bama sees the move politically motivated to appease those at the helm of power.'' This is a politically motivated decision to disregard the importance of Dalit literature from the public discourse. 'My works were taught in Delhi university for years. In fact, I have visited the university and spoken with the students. The students also carry out various research papers based on my works. Now with the introduction of new education policy, the idea is to suppress the dalit literature that discusses the empowerment of women,' she said.

'My works have been celebrated in the public sphere for the last 25 years, and it came under such scrutiny only after BJP came to power. There is a deliberate effort to suppress the voices of people like us, especially women,' she said. She also stated that she isn't going to address this issue with them. 'My works are read, translated, and discussed by many people. So there is no point even if they try to suppress it. For the last 2000 years, our voices have been suppressed, and when they start receiving the attention they deserve, these forces are worried,' she added.

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