After the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspended the FCRA licence of think tank Centre For Policy Research (CPR), a group of nearly 100 university faculty members and researchers based outside of India have written an open letter to the centre requesting it to reconsider its decision.
The CPR is a Delhi-based non-partisan think tank that was founded in 1973, headed by Yamini Aiyar. Following the action, they said that the think tank is in compliance with the law and will seek recourse for the timely resolution of the situation.
Alleging that the action is aimed at undermining a leading research institution and jeopardising its existence, the letter said, "It also sets a dangerous precedent that will impair the pursuit of research and independent judgment in the country.”
Among those who have voiced their support for the CPR by signing the letter are Ira Katznelson, Karuna Mantena and Adam Tooze from Columbia University, Michael Burawoy from University of California, Berkeley, Ashutosh Varshney from the Brown University, Alpa Shah from London School of Economics, Nayanika Mathur from Oxford University, Milan Vaishnav from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Rina Agarwala from the Johns Hopkins University.
Weeks before the CPR received a notice regarding its supension, the Income Tax department served the think tank a show cause notice, asking why the registration granting it tax exemptions should not be cancelled, according to media reports. Not just CPR, Oxfam's FCRA licence was suspended in January last year, after which the NGO had filed a revision petition with the home ministry.
"The recent moves against CPR by the Indian government amount to an abrogation of the institutional independence that is crucial to the production and dissemination of knowledge. In so doing, they also strike a blow at intellectual freedom and public reason that are cornerstones of Indian democracy. We respectfully urge the Indian government to reconsider its decision. We affirm our full support to the President of Centre for Policy Research and her colleagues," the letter said.