Expressing anguish over noted political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s resignation as a professor from the Ashoka University in Sonipat, the faculty members at the university have written to the vice chancellor and board members.
The alumni council of the university has also released a separate statement expressing solidarity with Mehta, who stepped down as the VC two years ago and resigned as a professor earlier this week.
The statement by the faculty came on a day when eminent economist Arvind Subramaniam also resigned from the university. The faculty members noted that Mehta’s exit has set a “chilling precedent for future removals of faculty” and is a “matter of great anguish”.
A query sent to the university regarding the developments remained unanswered till the filing of the story.
“In light of media reports that circulated before the official announcement of Professor Mehta’s departure from the university, it seems quite plausible that his resignation was a direct consequence of his role as a public intellectual and critic of the government. We are greatly troubled by this scenario,” the statement said.
“Mehta’s resignation is not just an occasion for sorrow over the departure of a deeply respected and admired colleague. It also raises urgent questions about the university’s commitment to academic freedom as well as its internal processes. Even more troubling is the possibility that our university may have acceded to pressure to remove Professor Mehta or to request, and accept, his resignation,” it added.
The faculty members said, “We request the university to ask Professor Mehta to rescind his resignation. We also request that the university clarify its internal protocols of faculty appointment and dismissal, and reinforce its institutional commitment to the principles of academic freedom.”
The Ashoka University Student Government, Alumni Council and other members of the university community released a separate statement expressing solidarity with Mehta.
“The events that have transpired point to a failure on the chancellor and vice-chancellor’s part in protecting the university faculty from external pressures and, more importantly, also points to a failure of the founders to ensure the same,” the statement said.
In his resignation letter earlier this week, Mehta said that his “public writing in support of a politics that tries to honour constitutional values of freedom and equal respect for all citizens, is perceived to carry risks for the university.”