Mistry Flays Mumbai Varsity Dropping Book From Syllabi

Mistry Flays Mumbai Varsity Dropping Book From Syllabi
Indian-born Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry today voiced dismay over Mumbai University providing "deluxe service via express delivery" in quickly dropping his Booker prize-nominated book Such A Long Journey from college syllabus following a demand by the Shiv Sena.

"A political party demanded change in syllabus and Mumbai University provided deluxe service via express delivery making the book disappear the very next day," Mistry, who is based in Canada, said in an email, copies of which were distributed by social activist Anand Patwardhan this evening.

"Mumbai University has come perilously close to institutionalising the ugly notion of self-censorship," the author, whose book was nominated for the prestigious Booker prize in 1990, said.

Mistry also slammed the Sena for pushing for withdrawing his award winning book.

On Shiv Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray who led the protest against the book, Mistry, a Mumbai-born Parsi, said, "a 20-year-old final year student of BA in History, beneficiary of a good education... About to embark on Sena's well-trodden path to appeal to the worst in human nature."

Aditya, son of Uddhav Thackeray, was launched into politics by his grand-father and Sena supremo Bal Thackeray last night at a Dussehra rally in Mumbai.

"In this sorry spectacle of book-burning and book-banning, the Shiv Sena has followed its depressingly familiar, tediously predictable script of threats and intimidation that Mumbai has endured since the organisation's founding in 1966. But it is the expeditious decision by Mumbai University which causes profound dismay," 58-year-old Mistry said.

Aditya had vehemently opposed Mistry's book as it reportedly contained anti-Sena remarks. Bhartiya Vidyarthi Sena, a students wing of the party, burnt copies of the novel last month and petitioned Mumbai University's vice-chancellor Dr Rajan Welukar to drop it from the second-year BA syllabus.

Bowing to the demand of the BVS, the University immediately withdrew the book from the syllabus and issued notices to all the colleges regarding the same.

On the controversy, Bal Thackeray said at yesterday's Sena rally that it contains derogatory language.

"...The book has derogatory language and you want to teach it to the college students? How can slang be taught to them? But some experts are speaking in its favour and you people are tolerating it," he had said.

Aditya, student of St Xavier College in south Mumbai, was slammed by his own principal over the move last week. Apparently, Mistry was also the student of the same college.

On criticism over Sena putting pressure on Mumbai University to withdraw the book from the syllabus for allegedly containing derogatory remarks against the party, Uddhav said last night Sena had only commented that such books should not have been included in college syllabus.

"These books are meant to be sold on railway stalls and not taught to students," he said.
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