Narrow, shallow, insecure: Arundhati Roy reacts on TN varsity dropping her book from curriculum
First Published 13, Nov 2020, 1:34 PM
A day after her book was taken off a university syllabus in Tamil Nadu, Arundhati Roy lashed out at the 'narrow, shallow, insecure attitude towards literature displayed by our current regime.
Controversy had erupted when the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tamil Nadu's Tirunelveli removed Roy's 'Walking with the Comrades' from the MA English syllabus after complaints from BJP's student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. The book was replaced with M Krishnan's 'My Native Land: Essays on Nature'.
Justifying the decision, vice-chancellor K Pitchumani had told told The Hindu, "(Roy’s) book was included in the syllabus in 2017. It was only a week ago that it was brought to our notice that Ms Roy had glorified Maoists. So we formed a committee to discuss the issue and the panel recommended its withdrawal. Besides the ABVP, others complained too, and the issue assumed multiple dimensions. So we decided to withdraw the book. It is appropriate that Krishnan is from Tirunelveli."
Reacting to the decision, Arundhati said: "When I heard of the Manomaniam Sundaranar University’s decision to remove my book Walking With the Comrades from its curriculum following threats and pressure from the ABVP—oddly enough I was more happy than sad because I had no idea that it was in the curriculum in the first place."
"I am glad it has been taught for several years. I am not in the least bit shocked or surprised that it has been removed from the syllabus now. It was my duty as a writer to write it. It is not my duty to fight for its place on a university curriculum. That is for others to do or not do," Arundhati said.
"Either way it has been widely read and as we know bans and purges do not prevent writers from being read. This narrow, shallow, insecure attitude towards literature displayed by our current regime is not just detrimental to its critics. It is detrimental to millions of its own supporters. It will limit and stunt our collective intellectual capacity as a society and a country that is striving for a place of respect and dignity in the world," Arundhati added.