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IIT Bombay asks faculty, students to get approval for events to avoid 'political, controversial' content
This follows a protest by certain students against guest speakers accused of 'glorifying terrorism' while talking about Palestine's freedom struggle
The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) has asked its faculty members and students to seek prior approval if they plan to invite external speakers for a talk or screenings if the content may be construed as "political or potentially controversial".
But there is no need for such permission if the talk/content is purely non-political, the guidelines issued by the institute two days ago said.
The development comes days after a protest was held outside the IIT-B campus against guest speakers for allegedly 'glorifying terrorism' while talking about the Palestinian freedom struggle against Israel.
The 'Interim guidelines on holding of events at IIT Bombay', issued on 14 November, state that for events involving external speakers, or screenings of movies/documentaries, the dean obtains clearance from a committee appointed by the director before approving the event.
The guidelines were posted on X by the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle. Contacted through a message for details, however, there was no response from the institute.
"Faculty members planning to invite external speakers, or to screen documentaries/movies, whether it is part of their academic activity or otherwise shall take prior approval from the Head of the Academic unit," the guidelines state.
"However, there is no need for such permissions if the talk/content is purely non-political and has absolutely no content that may be construed as political or potentially controversial," the document said.
Students can organise events only through the recognised body of the campus, which is part of the students gymkhana, after approval from the dean, it said.
"For events involving external speakers, or screening of movies/documentaries, (the) Dean obtains clearance from a committee appointed by the Director before approving the event," it added.
In order to vet external speakers, an external speakers review committee will be appointed by the IIT-B director, which will review details of the speaker/videos including a speaker's biodata, an abstract of the talk, public links on the speaker and the talk, and copies of recorded material if any to be played at the event. The information must be provided by the faculty member who is hosting the event/talk/seminar.
The guidelines were issued after a protest was held on 11 November outside IIT-B. According to the protesters, on 6 November, during a talk under the academic course 'HS 835 Performance Theory & Praxis', Professor Sharmistha Saha of the Humanities and Social Sciences department and guest speaker Sudhanva Deshpande had allegedly spoken highly of "terrorists" and armed rebellion.
Protesters under the aegis of the Vivek Vichar Manch, a body linked to the BJP students' wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), claimed Deshpande had glorified Palestinian terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi, who is allegedly part of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade that has been designated as a terror organisation by several countries, and had even admitted to meeting him in 2015.