New Delhi: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Thursday said no central university had reported teaching any book by a Pakistani author.
He made the statement in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav.
The question sought to know if the central government had “taken cognisance of the fact that a book by Pakistani author (sic) is being taught at Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia or any other educational institution in the country and the language is derogatory to Indian citizens and also supports terrorism”.
On 16 March, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had written to registrars of all central universities requesting them to furnish information on the question raised by Yadav.
In his response, Pradhan said, “The data relating to books recommended by the Board of Studies of Departments of these universities/institutions are not maintained centrally. However, none of the central universities has reported that any book by any Pakistani author is being taught.”
Central universities, he added, are autonomous institutions and are established by an Act of Parliament, and have their own departments with curriculum development committees that suggest books for study.
The minister said, “…They are governed by their own set of rules such as statutes and ordinances framed under their respective Acts… In the library of these universities/institutions, the Board of Studies of the departments recommends a list of books to the university librarian for procurement.”
Yadav’s question had led over 250 academics and scholars associated with Indian institutions of higher education — including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), and IITs, among others — to issue a statement criticising its nature and language.
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What academics said
In the statement, the academics and scholars argued that “leaving the book unnamed allows the question to be read as suggesting that any book by any Pakistani author might possibly be read as being ‘derogatory to Indian citizens’ and ‘supporting terrorism’”.
They said that attempts to “continually link central universities with identifiably Muslim associations, such as Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia, with ‘terrorism’, must be resisted in every possible way”.
“Not doing so will only endanger our own lives, the lives of our children, and, perhaps more importantly, the very possibility of a future world in which difference and equality may coexist,” the statement read.
The signatories included Romila Thapar, Professor Emerita at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Nandita Narain of St. Stephen’s College, Partha Chatterjee, honorary professor at Kolkata’s Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, and JNU professor Ayesha Kidwai.
The other signatories included academics associated with institutions like IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, University of Hyderabad, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Azim Premji University, Jamia Millia Islamia, University of Mumbai, and Pondicherry University.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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