25 nov 2011Ramkatha, Rambhakts and the University
by Ashwin Anshu
The controversy over Ramanujan’s essay highlights some key issues. One of them is the Hindu right’s claim to act as the custodian of Hindu identity and to assert its hegemony over all “Hindu” traditions is often successful due to the weaknesses of our institutions. The other is that the defence of academic freedom and autonomy is central to the life of a university. The supremacy of rational enquiry is the fundamental basis of all academic endeavours and undermining that destroys the basis of a university. If the logic of the criticism of Ramanujan’s essay is extended, then historical studies will be transformed into theological works that discuss religion only from the theological rather than secular standpoint. If the aim of history education is to broaden minds and to infuse a critical understanding of the past then shelving of essays like that of Ramanujan on non-academic grounds does not help. The climate of intolerance will only be furthered. Therefore, it is the duty of all members of the university community, the larger academic community as well as citizens concerned about our secular public institutions to impress upon Delhi University authorities that they should not bow down to violence but defend their own faculty and academia and reinstate Ramanujan’s essay in the undergraduate syllabi.
Read More : http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/16731.pdf
(in EPW, 12 November 2011)