Breaking his silence over the controversy surrounding historian Ramachandra Guha declining to join Ahmedabad University (AU) in the wake of RSS student wing opposing his appointment, Vice-Chancellor Pankaj Chandra on Thursday said one has to deal with such things as one moves forward.
“These challenges will continue. I faced these challenges when I was professor in IIM Ahmedabad. Many many more times when I was the director of IIM Bangalore. They are not new to me. What you do? You keep navigating your way and keep finding the next positive thing and you move on,” Chandra said when asked about the episode.
On October 16 last year, the university had announced Guha’s appointment as Shrenik Lalbhai Chair Professor of Humanities and director of the Gandhi Winter School at its School of Arts and Sciences. Three days later, members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS, protested against the decision and demanded cancellation of Guha’s appointment, describing the renowned historian’s work as being “critical of Hindu culture”.
Later, Guha declined to join the university.
“At that juncture, I was away, and things were folding in a different manner. Hence, it must have led to some confusion, and perhaps some erroneous conclusions,” Chandra said, admitting that the university should have communicated well.
“Organisations grow when people within grow. When they are courageous, they are transparent, when they talk, the organisations start reflecting them. There will be many many more different kinds of hurdles we face in life, but we move on. We find solutions to work with people in different ways,” Chandra said, adding that the unversity has “a very non-interfering and supportive board”.
“We who didn’t give in or give out. It was Ram (Ramachandra Guha) who decided not to come. There was no retracting on our part, and that is the fact,” Chandra added.
“You will face many many situations of these kinds. For the time you deal with and for the moment you move. In any endeavour where there are changes that happen, so it may be the case that the things we want to do in six months will get in eight months and if not that then something else. So as long as our principle is right and we are courageous to move, I think over a period of time we will achieve what we aim to,” Chandra said.
The university will launch a new approach of “interdisciplinary studies and empower students to give shape to their own education” across the university from July this year.
The course on Mahatma Gandhi, which Guha was to teach, would be launched soon, Chandra said.