Students of Ashoka University have decided to boycott classes for two days from Monday in protest against the resignations of faculty members Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian.
The Ashoka University Student Government, a student body, also said on Saturday it will be organising a separate movement demanding the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor.
Earlier this week, the Sonipat-based Ashoka University — a leading varsity that offers courses in liberal arts and sciences — found itself at the centre of a controversy after political commentator Mehta 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 to the government, had resigned from the university two days later in solidarity with Mehta.
The demands of the protesting students include a public acknowledgement by the university founders on Mehta’s statement as well as assuring the Ashokan Community that hdr will be given an unconditional offer letter.
The students are also demanding an open meeting organised by the founders with the student body, the divesting of administrative powers and roles from founders of the university to the elected representatives of faculty, students and administration.
“We are extremely saddened by the resignations of both professors and incredibly dissatisfied by the conditions under which the resignations took place. Not only have we lost intellectual giants and erudite academics whose scholarship we value deeply, but also our trust and faith in this administration to protect the students within this university from external political pressures. This is a gross violation of academic freedoms and we strongly condemn it,” the students’ body said in a statement.
“We will not back down in the face of injustice. We will continue our struggle for a more just and equal institution and for true academic freedom at Ashoka and beyond,” it added.
Raghuram Rajan on the issue
Expressing his views on the exit of Mehta and Subramanian, eminent economist Raghuram Rajan has said free speech is the soul of a great varsity and wondered whether “pressures will go away” by showing a willingness to barter the soul.
In a Linkedin post, former RBI governor Rajan said that free speech has suffered a “grievous blow” in India this week as professor Mehta, one of India’s finest political scientists, resigned from the Ashoka University.
“The reality is that professor Mehta is a thorn in the side of the establishment. He is no ordinary thorn because he skewers those in government and in high offices like the Supreme Court with vivid prose and thought-provoking arguments,” he said.
With inputs from agencies