Updated: January 8, 2022 5:40:23 pm
A group of students and faculty members from the Indian Institutes of Management in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad flagged hate speech and attacks on minorities in a letter Friday to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his silence “emboldens” voices of hate.
The letter, mailed to the Prime Minister’s Office, has 183 signatories, including 13 faculty members of IIM Bangalore and three of IIM Ahmedabad.
“Your silence on the rising intolerance in our country, Honourable Prime Minister, is disheartening to all of us who value the multicultural fabric of our country. Your silence, Honourable Prime Minister, emboldens the hate-filled voices and threatens the unity and integrity of our country,” says the letter. It urges him to steer the country away from “forces that seek to divide us”.
Five faculty members of IIM Bangalore drafted the letter. They are Prateek Raj (Assistant Professor of Strategy); Deepak Malghan (Associate Professor, Public Policy), Dalhia Mani (Associate Professor, Entrepreneurship); Rajluxmi V Murthy (Associate Professor, Decision Sciences); and Hema Swaminathan (Associate Professor, Public Policy). Malghan is a prominent ecological economist.
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Raj said a group of students and faculty took the initiative after realising that “silence was not an option any more”.
“For far too long, the mainstream discourse has dismissed the voices of hate as the fringe. That’s how we are here,” he told The Indian Express.
Among the other IIM Bangalore faculty members who signed the letter are Ishwar Murthy who is Professor of Decision Sciences; Kanchan Mukherjee (Professor, Organizational Behavior & Human Resources Management); Rahul Dé (Professor, Information Systems); Sai Yayavaram (Professor of Strategy); Rajalaxmi Kamath (Associate Professor, Public Policy), Ritwik Banerjee (Associate Professor, Economics and Social Sciences); and Manaswini Bhalla (Associate Professor, Economics and Social Sciences).
Dé is the institute’s Dean of Programmes and Chairperson of the Office of International Affairs. Bhalla is Chairperson of the Economics and Social Sciences section.
The signatories who teach at IIM Ahmedabad are Professor Ankur Sarin (Public Systems Group), Professor Navdeep Mathur, and Professor Rakesh Basant (Economics).
When contacted, Prof Basant said the letter makes the position of the signatories clear and that he would not like to add anything to it. Prof Basant is also Dean of Alumni and External Relations at the institute, as well as the JSW Chair Professor of Innovation and Public Policy.
Raj said the signatories’ objective was to underline the fact that “if voices of hate are loud, voices of reason should be louder”.
While for him, Bangalore south MP Tejasvi Surya’s controversial speech exhorting Hindus to convert Muslims and Christians was the tipping point, for other signatories, the recent attacks on churches in many parts of the country and the Haridwar Dharam Sansad acted as triggers. This was mentioned in the letter.
“Our Constitution gives us the right to practice our religion with dignity – without fear, without shame. There is a sense of fear in our country now – places of worship, including churches in recent days, are being vandalised, and there have been calls to take arms against our Muslim brothers and sisters. All of this is carried out with impunity and without any fear of due process,” the letter read.
It then requests the PM to stand firm against forces that seek to divide citizens.
“We ask your leadership to turn our minds and hearts, as a nation, away from inciting hatred against our people. We believe that a society can focus on creativity, innovation, and growth, or society can create divisions within itself. We want to build an India that stands as an exemplar of inclusiveness and diversity in the world. We, the undersigned faculty, staff, and students of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), hope and pray that you will lead the country in making the right choices,” it states.
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