Ashoka row: Over 150 international academics support Mehta

NEW DELHI: Over 150 international academics came out in support of Pratap Bhanu Mehta on Friday, days after he resigned from Ashoka University, citing the management’s insecurities over his criticism of the government. The letter described his resignation as a “dangerous attack” on academic freedom.

Former RBI governor and economist Raghuram Rajan also expressed solidarity with Mehta in a blog posted on his LinkedIn profile. “Mehta is a thorn in the side of the establishment,” he wrote.

The open letter was addressed to the trustees, administration and faculty of Ashoka. Among those who signed the letter were Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, professor of philosophy and law Kwame Appiah (New York University), Yale English professor David Bromwich, social scientist Partha Chatterjee (Columbia University), Oxford history professor Faisal Devji, Lawrence Lessig (Harvard Law School), philosopher Martha C Nussbaum (University of Chicago) and Harvard humanities professor Homi K Bhabha.

“We write in solidarity with Pratap Bhanu Mehta, and to reaffirm the importance of the values that he has always practiced. In political life, these are free arguments, tolerance, and a democratic spirit of equal citizenship. In the university, they are free inquiry, candor, and a rigorous distinction between the demands of intellectual honesty and the pressure of politicians, funders, or ideological animus. These values come under assault whenever a scholar is punished for the content of public speech. When that speech is in defense of precisely these values, the assault is especially shameful,” the letter said.

“The university must be a home for fearless inquiry and criticism. We support Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his practice of the highest values of intellectual inquiry and public life,” the letter further said.

Mehta’s exit was followed by another high-profile resignation, when former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian quit as faculty, also in solidarity with Mehta.

Source: Times of India


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