Advertisement
Friday, Dec 03, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

Over 150 Academicians Write Open Letter To Ashoka University Over Pratap Bhanu Mehta's Resignation

150 academicians from prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, London School of Economics and MIT, have written an open letter to trustees of Ashoka University.

Over 150 Academicians Write Open Letter To Ashoka University Over Pratap Bhanu Mehta's Resignation
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Over 150 Academicians Write Open Letter To Ashoka University Over Pratap Bhanu Mehta's Resignation
outlookindia.com
2021-03-20T20:46:00+05:30

Expressing distress over political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta's resignation from the Ashoka University under "political pressure", 150 academicians from prestigious universities across the globe including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, London School of Economics and MIT, have written an open letter to the trustees of the varsity.

Earlier this week, Mehta, who had resigned as the vice-chancellor of Ashoka University,  chose to step down as professor, saying that the founders made it "abundantly clear" that his association with the institution was a "political liability".

Arvind Subramanian, the former chief economic advisor, had also resigned from the university, two days later, in solidarity with Mehta.

Students, alumni and faculty members of the varsity have been staging protests and demanding answers from the administration about whether Mehta's exit has been a "direct consequence of him being a public intellectual and critic of the government".

Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday took to social media to say that Mehta and Subramanian's resignation is a "grievous blow to free speech and the founders have bartered away the varsity's soul".

"We are distressed to learn of Pratap Bhanu Mehta's resignation under political pressure from Ashoka University. A prominent critic of the current Indian government and defender of academic freedom, he had become a target for his writings. It seems that Ashoka’s Trustees, who should have treated defending him as their institutional duty, instead all but forced his resignation," the open letter by the academicians read.

"In political life, these are free argument, tolerance, and a democratic spirit of equal citizenship. In the university, they are free inquiry, candour, and a rigorous distinction between the demands of intellectual honesty and the pressure of politicians, funders, or ideological animus. These values come under assault whenever a scholar is punished for the content of public speech.

"When that speech is in defence of precisely these values, the assault is especially shameful. The university must be a home for fearless inquiry and criticism. We support Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his practice of the highest values of intellectual inquiry and public life," it added.

The signatories to the letter include academicians from the New York University, University of Oxford, Stanford University, Princeton University, Cambridge University, University of Pennsylvania and University of California, among others.

Rajan said Mehta is a "thorn in the side of the establishment" as he "skewers those in government and in high offices like the Supreme Court with vivid prose and thought-provoking arguments".

"Free speech is the soul of a great university. By compromising on it, the founders have bartered away its soul. And if you show a willingness to barter your soul, is there any chance the pressures will go away?" he wrote in a Linkedin post.

While the administration at Ashoka University has been tight-lipped about the development, Vice-Chancellor Malika Sarabhai told students in a virtual town hall on Saturday that Mehta was asked to reconsider his decision, but "he has asked to be left alone".

With PTI Inputs 

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Shaheen Bagh, CAA, Farmers’ Protest: Hip-Hop Is The Voice Of Dissent In India

Shaheen Bagh, CAA, Farmers’ Protest: Hip-Hop Is The Voice Of Dissent In India

Young, brash and little-known artistes are using hip-hop as an outlet to speak up and speak out.

World Disability Day: Visually Impaired Girls In Himachal Use Education To Dispel Darkness

World Disability Day: Visually Impaired Girls In Himachal Use Education To Dispel Darkness

Umang Foundation in Himachal Pradesh has helped many blind and visually impaired persons achieve their dreams by giving them access to higher education.

IND Vs GER, Junior Hockey WC, Live: India Eye Final

IND Vs GER, Junior Hockey WC, Live: India Eye Final

India are the defending champions and beat Belgium in the quarterfinals. Get live scores and updates of IND vs GER, Hockey Men's Junior World Cup 2021 semifinal being played in Bhubaneswar.

Kashmir: Ghulam Nabi Azad Emerges As Key Player In J&K With Or Without Congress

Kashmir: Ghulam Nabi Azad Emerges As Key Player In J&K With Or Without Congress

Crowds at Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's recent rallies show that he will be a key player in elections in Jammu and Kashmir, when they happen.

Advertisement