As a mark of protest against the violence and the subsequent developments at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), noted economist Amit Bhaduri resigned as professor emeritus at the premier university. Bhaduri expressed his protest through an open letter to the university’s Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar.
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“I have learnt from friends and witnessed through public channels with alarm, and now with increasing disgust how your handling of situations as the administrative and academic head of Jawaharlal Nehru University has led to its steady deterioration paving the way to its intellectual disintegration,” Bhaduri wrote in the letter.
In a sharply worded resignation letter, Bhaduri drew a contrast between the university’s present atmosphere to the times when he joined the institution way back in 1973. Bhaduri alleged that there is a deliberate attempt to throttle the free, and lively atmosphere of debate and discussion in JNU.
“What is different now is not only incompetence of handling of situations by the authorities, but a deliberate attempt to throttle the free, and lively atmosphere of debate and discussion for which JNU was known all over the country,” he said.
“It seems to me that the current attempt by the administration at destroying that atmosphere of freedom of expression is in line with a larger and more sinister plan of which you as the head of JNU also appear to be a pivotal part. You seem determined on imprinting your administration’s narrow-minded world view, and shut all other windows of ideas to the students,” Bhaduri added.
The development comes more than a week after masked men wielding sticks, rods, and sledgehammers ran riot inside JNU for close to three hours on the evening of January 5, leaving 36 students, teachers and staff injured. Following the incident, JNUSU and JNUTA have demanded the resignation of V-C Jagadesh Kumar.
In the letter, the economist stated that although it pains him to give up his emeritus professorship at the premier institute, it would be immoral on his part to remain a silent observer “in this larger, sinister scheme of throttling dissent which is unfolding now at the University”.
“…I do hope that my returning the honour which was bestowed on me by the University sends you the right message of my deep concern at your leadership of the university which is leading that premier institution of learning to its systematic disintegration,” Bhaduri wrote in the letter.
Last year, the JNU had asked some of its Professors Emeriti, including historian Romila Thapar, for CVs to “review their position”. Prof Thapar had then said the university was only trying to “dishonour someone who has been critical of the changes that have been introduced by the present administration”.
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