After the famed scholar, Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigned from the Ashoka University, Arvind Subramanian resigns and becomes the second to leave the university.
Arvind Subramanian was a professor of economics at the Ashoka University and his resignation comes two days after Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s resignation from Ashoka University. Arvind Subramaniam, a renowned economist, has alleged that Ashoka University, despite being a private university, does not have academic freedom of expression.
Subramaniam joined the university last year as a professor in the Economics Department and he also was the founding director of the New Ashoka Center for Economic Policy.
It is worth mentioning that well-known scholar, political analyst, and commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta had also resigned from the post of Professor at the Ashoka University two days ago. Mehta had also resigned as the Vice-Chancellor of the University around two years ago.
Mehta has been known to consistently question the government policies both in his writings and in public. He is considered one of the country’s leading scholars on politics and political theory, constitutional law, governance, and political economy.
The university distanced itself from any connection between Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s criticism of the government and his resignation.
When asked by the media whether there was any connection between Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s criticism of the government and his resignation, the university distanced itself from this question.
However, a spokesperson for the Ashoka University confirmed his resignation and thanked Mehta for his contribution to the university both as a professor and as a vice-chancellor.
Questions raised on Ashoka University’s independence from any political pressure.
The resignations of Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian raise the question of whether the country’s universities are really independent of any political pressure? Even Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his resignation letter formally stated that the reason behind his resignation from Ashoka University is the fear of the founders of him being a political liability for the university.
Arvind Subramanian resigns and also echoed Mehta’s concern. While resigning Subramanian said that the circumstances related to Mehta’s resignation were the reason for his resignation and Ashoka University is no longer a place for academic expression and freedom.
Read full Pratap Bhanu Mehta resignation letter
Here is the full text of Pratap Bhanu Mehta resignation letter
Prof. Malabika Sarkar,
Vice- Chancellor, Ashoka University.
Dear Prof Sarkar,
I write to tender my resignation from Ashoka University as University Professor. After a meeting with Founders it has become abundantly clear to me that my association with the University may be considered a political liability. My 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. In the interests of the University I resign. I would request that the resignation take immediate effect. I am teaching one class, and would not like to leave the students stranded. But I think the university can find a solution. I can informally finish out the rest of the classes, if no other solution is found.
It has been a great privilege to get to know the students and several wonderful colleagues at Ashoka. I hope that the institution continues to thrive. I thank you and the Chancellor for your personal kindness over the years of my association with Ashoka.
It is clear it is time for me to leave Ashoka. A liberal university will need a liberal political and social context to flourish. I hope the university will play a role in securing that environment. Nietzsche once said that “no living for truth is possible in a university.” I hope that prophecy does not come true. But in light of the prevailing atmosphere, the Founders and the Administration will require renewed commitment to the values of Ashoka, and new courage to secure Ashoka’s freedom.
My only request is that the administration cooperate in making all the transition formalities as painless as possible. If any arrangements can take due consideration of my driver, Gajendra Sahu, I will be most grateful. He moved jobs with me and should not be penalised. If some interim help can be granted to him, while I make alternative arrangements to transfer him to an appropriate payroll, I shall be obliged.
I will forever remain a supporter of the values Ashoka is meant to embody. Please convey my deepest gratitude to all of Ashoka’s faculty, students and staff. They have all been unfailingly professional, supportive and generous.
I will have a hard copy with my signature sent to you as well. But this mail be treated as my resignation.
With warmest personal regards,
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Cc: Chancellor, Rudrangshu Mukherjee