Arvind Subramanian resigns as professor from Ashoka University, two days after Pratab Bhanu Mehta’s ouster

In his resignation letter sent to the Vice Chancellor of the university, Subramanian said that he was ‘devastated’ by the circumstances that led to the resignation of professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta

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NH Web Desk

Noted economist Arvind Subramanian has resigned as professor from Ashoka University, citing the circumstances involving Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s exit and alleging that the varsity had failed to provide space for academic expression and freedom any longer.

Subramanian, the former Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India, had joined Ashoka University as a professor in the department of economics in July 2020.

In his letter addressed to the university Vice Chancellor Malabika Sarkar, Subramanian rued that that even “Ashoka, with its private status and backing by private capital, can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom is ominously disturbing”.

He also wrote that with Pratap Bhanu Mehta leaving, the university’s “commitment to fight for and sustain the Ashoka vision” was now open to question and that makes it difficult for him to continue being part of Ashoka.

Mehta has consistently questioned the government and its policies over the last few years through in writings and public appearances.

Here is the full text of Arvind Subramanian’s resignation letter addressed to VC Malabika Sarkar:

“As you know, I came to Ashoka University with the aim of teaching students, and building a centre for economic policy to build our national capacity for high-quality research, analysis and communication. With the University’s support, especially of key trustees, the Centre has been taking shape—with events, research projects, teams of talented researchers, and resources—beyond what I could have hoped for, especially considering the pandemic-induced constraints.

The exciting sense was growing that some of our long-term goals would be achieved. And I was really enjoying getting to know and work with the brilliant students and colleagues of Ashoka.

“However, the circumstances involving the ‘resignation’ of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me. I am acutely aware of the broader context in which Ashoka and its trustees have to operate, and have so far admired the University for having navigated it so well.

“But that someone of such integrity and eminence, who embodied the vision underlying Ashoka, felt compelled to leave is troubling. That even Ashoka—with its private status and backing by private capital—can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom is ominously disturbing. Above all, that the University’s commitment to fight for and sustain the Ashoka vision is now open to question makes it difficult for me to continue being part of Ashoka.

“So it is with a sense of deep regret and profound sadness that I am writing to submit my resignation from the University which will take effect from the end of this academic year. I wish you and the University, and especially its gifted and motivated students–who are the heart of Ashoka–success in the future.”

On Thursday, the faculty members of Ashoka University too came out in support of Mehta. The faculty members wrote to the VC and the chairman of Board of Tustees, urging them to prevail upon professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta to rescind his resignation as his resignation was “a matter of great anguish for the university faculty”.

The letter raised questions over the varsity’s “commitment to academic freedom as well as internal processes”.

"Even more troubling is the possibility that our university may have acceded to pressure to remove Professor Mehta or to request, and accept, his resignation,” the faculty members noted in the letter.

Arvind Subramanian resigns as professor from Ashoka University, two days after Pratab Bhanu Mehta’s ouster

The students of Ashoka University too protested against the unceremonious ouster of Mehta.

Photo courtesy: Social media
Photo courtesy: Social media
The protesting students of Ashoka

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Published: 18 Mar 2021, 6:52 PM