Leading Ashoka University officials say there have been some flaws in the institutional processes.
Senior Ashoka University officials said in a joint statement with professors Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian on Sunday that they regretted the events surrounding the resignations of the two and that there had been some losses in institutional processes.
Statement by Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Vice Chancellor Malabika Sarkar, Chairman of the Board of Directors Ashish Dhawan, Prof. Mehta and Prof. Subramanian, said: We acknowledge that there have been some errors in the institutional processes which we will work to correct in consultation with all stakeholders. This will reaffirm our commitment to academic autonomy and freedom, which have always been at the core of Ashoka University ideals.
The statement said that Prof. Mehta and Prof. The Subramanian were saddened to leave Ashoka and that they continued to believe that the university embodied a liberal vision and commitment to freedom and academic autonomy. The statement said the two remained benevolent to the university and will remain available for advice and consultation with it in the future.
The joint statement comes after Prof. Mehta told Ashoka University students that he would not withdraw his resignation as the underlying circumstances that led to [it] will not change for the foreseeable future.
In a letter to his students in the early hours of Sunday, Prof Mehta insisted that his time with Ashoka was a closed chapter. [It] it is not an easy decision. But it is, for me, the only honorable thing to do, in accordance with my values; values that I think you share. I also believe it is in the best interest of the university, he wrote. The underlying circumstances that led to the resignation will not change for the foreseeable future, in my case, in any case, he added.
He resigned earlier this week after a meeting with university founders made it clear that his association with the institution could be considered a political responsibility. Prof. Subramanian, another professor and former Chief Economic Adviser, resigned in solidarity two days later, saying the University could no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom.
On Saturday, the student union announced a two-day boycott of classes from Monday to demand that the university offer Prof. Mehta his work with a public acknowledgment of the pressures behind his resignation. In his letter, Prof. Mehta urged them not to push it on this issue as your mission is greater than the fate of two Professors. Recalling his previous resignation as Deputy Chancellor of Ashoka two years ago, he added that he did not want to tempt fate again.
He praised the student protest, saying it was about Ashoka’s institutional integrity. But it was also about the dark and ominous shadows appearing over democracy in India. He also encouraged students to work with trusted administrators and faculty to secure the institutional autonomy and freedom that Ashoka needs.
Claiming that the dark shadows of authoritarianism are passing over us, often putting us all in uncomfortable and sometimes dishonest positions, he noted that it would not be enough to weep over the impending darkness and expressed confidence that his students would illuminate a light in place.
Recalling the texts of philosophy and political science that he had taught them during the year, Prof. Mehta added, But what you have taught us is something more valuable: that liberal values have more to do with having a character than proving a creed.
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