Months after students and faculty of IIT-Bombay joined protests for and against CAA-NRC-NPR, director Dr Subhasis Chaudhuri broke his silence on Wednesday and addressed them on the issue directly at an open forum. Without referring to CAA-NRC-NPR, he said the institute doesn’t endorse “political things”.
Reminding students that every inch of IIT-B is funded by the government, he said, “IIT-Bombay is a Government of India-funded Institute of Eminence and its primary mandate is to produce manpower at the highest level and to do research that benefits the general Indian people at large. We are strictly apolitical and we do not endorse any political views, either for or against — nothing to do with politics.”
He added, “Our institute has to be absolutely free from any kind of political endorsement. Question is, what about the views of the faculties? I may be a director but I am also an individual, and what about the students? You have the full right to have your opinion. But that’s personal. One cannot assume this as the view of IIT-Bombay. No one has any right to say that IIT-Bombay is for or against this (CAA-NRC-NPR issue). You can write your opinion as an individual. At the end of the day, the pen is mightier than the sword.”
“You are free to write, go outside to exert your opinion but the institute cannot be a part of any political activities, strictly no. Just like you have a right to have your opinion, others also have a right to not get disturbed. Do I have the right to disturb somebody. Absolutely not. This building, the hostel you’re living in, the classes. Every inch and every brick of it is paid for by the Government of India. Also, it’s run by taxpayers’ money. We have a commitment to help our nation,” he said.
He told the students that engaging in political activities can create divisions and bring down the name of IIT-B. Only a few students were present for the open forum, where issues of infrastructure and women’s safety, among others, were also raised.
Reacting to his speech, one student present in the meet said, “We told him that Articles 19 A and 19 B of our Constitution give us the right to protest. Is IIT above the Constitution? To this, he gave a generic and unsatisfactory answer. He gave such answers to all questions that were asked.”
Another student said, “When the citizenship of millions of poor Indians itself is in danger, can we keep quiet?” A group of students and faculty members, who are organising the Preamble lecture series till January 25, said the initiatives will continue.
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