Monday, April 12, 2021

Campus Buzz

Ashoka Univ students charge Founders-admin for failing to protect faculty from "external pressures"

IANS | March 24, 2021 01:00 PM

NEW DELHI: The Ashoka University Students Government has charged the Founders, Chancellor and Vice Chancellor with failure in protecting the varsity faculty from external pressures.

In reference to the resignation of Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the students had said in a letter that the events point to a failure of Founders, Chancellor and Vice Chancellor in protecting the faculty.

They said this also has implications for freedom of speech for the students and faculty.

This is not the first time that the faculty has come under attack for opinions and course content and students are worried what support they will get in future or will they have to self-censure and what this means for the quality of education.

Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta and eminent economist Arvind Subramanian, two vocal critics of the Modi government, resigned from the Ashoka University. Mehta stepped on March 16, almost two years after he had resigned as its Vice Chancellor.

Immediately after Mehta's resignation, the students and faculty had demanded transparency from the Founders and university administration on the events that unfolded.

They said that Professors Mehta and Subramanian are invaluable members of the faculty and they are saddened by the circumstances that led to the resignations.

The students said they are receiving information about the resignations from media articles without any confirmation from Vice Chancellor Malabika Sarkar, Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee and the Founders and Trustees.

"The information asymmetry that exists between the Founders, administration and us is disheartening and disappointing. There is an urgent need to hold them accountable and push them to establish clear channels of communication, " students and faculty said.

Former Chief Economic Adviser Subramanian said in his resignation letter: "The circumstances involving the 'resignation' of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me. I am acutely aware of the broader context in which Ashoka and its trustees have to operate, and have so far admired the University for having navigated it so well."

Subramanian's exit from Ashoka University became public on March 18. He had joined the varsity in July last year as a Professor in the Department of Economics. He is also the founding director of the new Ashoka Centre for Economic Policy, devoted to researching policy issues related to India and global development.

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