Hosted by Chirag Chinnappa
Edited by Malavika VN
A little over a month ago, as noted academics Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian resigned from their posts at Ashoka University, a key criticism that emerged was that the administration, trustees and founders could have done more. In his resignation letter, Pratap Bhanu Mehta specifically cited political pressure as a reason for his resignation, saying, “After a meeting with Founders it has become abundantly clear to me that my association with the University may be considered a political liability”.
And it was in this light that alumni, students and citizens alike believed that the administration should have done more to protect him. But the case of Pratap Bhanu Mehta is not unique; academics face political pressure, subtle or overt, in many forms. Think of Anand Teltumbde (Professor at the Goa Institute of Management), or Hany Babu (Associate Professor at Delhi University), or Sudha Bharadwaj (Visiting Faculty at the National Law University, Delhi); all of them have been arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and have still not been let out.
In such situations, what can universities do to protect academics? What kind of safeguard can universities provide? In conversation with Chirag Chinnappa, Dr. Bittu, Head of the Psychology Department and Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology at Ashoka University, and Dr Shivali Tukdeo, a Researcher and Faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, share some insight.