New Delhi, March 18 (PTI): Two days after political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigned as a professor from the Ashoka University, his colleague, economist Arvind Subramanian, put in his papers on Thursday and faculty members wrote to the vice chancellor expressing their deep anguish.
The liberal arts university in Sonipat, much sought after for the courses it offers, has found itself at the centre of a controversy due to the recent developments.
Subramanian, the former chief economic advisor, had joined the Ashoka University as a professor in the Department of Economics in July 2020.
“Dr Subramanian has resigned,” a senior faculty member of the university said.
A query sent to the university regarding the resignation remained unanswered till the filing of the story.
Subramanian was appointed the chief economic advisor on October 16, 2014 for a period of three years and was given an extension in 2017.
However, he quit the job with close to a year of his tenure remaining and returned to the US. Subramanian’s official contract was till May 2019.
Meanwhile, the faculty members at the university have written to the vice chancellor and board members, expressing anguish over Mehta’s resignation.
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 faculty members have noted that Mehta’s exit has set a “chilling precedent for future removals of faculty” and is a “matter of great anguish”.
“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,” a statement issued by the faculty members 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.