One of India’s leading public intellectuals, known for his fierce criticism of Narendra Modi’s government, has resigned from his post at a prestigious university, sparking a debate over academic freedoms and Modi Disagreement with what critics say is small.
Pratap Bano Mehta resigned as professor of political science at Ashoka University on Monday, and wrote in her resignation letter that “my affiliation with the university can be considered a political responsibility.”
Asoka is an elite liberal arts university in the state of Haryana, which surrounds Delhi and is ruled at the state level by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Founded seven years ago, Ashoka has attracted prominent names like Mehta, who served as its Vice Chancellor for a time.
On Wednesday, another professor resigned in solidarity with Mehta. Arvind Subramaniam, an economist and former chief economic adviser to Modi, wrote in his resignation letter that he was devastated by Mehta’s departure. “Even Ashoka – with his private status and private capital – can no longer provide a place for scholarly expression and freedom is extremely disturbing,” Subramanyam wrote.
In recent months, academics, journalists, activists and even comedians have been accused of plotting to overthrow the government, whether in demonstrations, on social media or in writing.
Last month, the BJP-ruled state of Uttarakhand announced that those who criticized the government on social media could be disqualified from government jobs, grants or contracts, bank loans and even passports.
In recent weeks, several judges have expressed their displeasure, arguing that the anger and criticism of the state or the ruling party cannot be reduced to a coup.
This month, a US-based think tank independently downgraded India’s democracy rating to “partially independent”, sparking outrage from the government, which rejected the rating, saying It does not need approval from foreign organizations.
A statement from the university’s student body on Thursday called on Mehta to relinquish his position. “We strongly condemn the circumstances that led to these resignations and the lack of transparency at the university,” the statement said.
Along with the tumultuous campus, a rumor is circulating that other faculty members may resign. Another thing is that the founders of the university, in a fit of rage, may try to persuade Mehta to change his mind.
Amitabh Matoo, a professor at JNU, a public university in Delhi, said: “JNU is full of controversial critics of the government and its ideology but no one has felt the need to resign, yet Ashoka’s founders I do not dare to fight pressure “
Another public scholar, Ramchandra Goha, tweeted: “In this journey so far, Ashoka University has made a lot of promises. Asked to crawl.
Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr., a political analyst, said it did not seem likely that the university would want to get rid of Mehta for insulting the government, as expressed in its regular Indian Express column.
“I doubt if their reasons are so crude, but maybe it’s possible that somewhere they think his language has become easier,” Rao said. “They have attacked the government over the farmers’ protest and warned that democracy under Modi is in danger.”
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