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Sunday, February 21, 2016

State cannot define what is nationalism: IIT-Bombay faculty - Indian Express

Meanwhile, faculty members of other IITs have also issued a joint statement “condemning” the arrest of JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

A student shouts slogans even as JNU teachers and students form a human chain inside the campus in protest against arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar on Sunday. Express photo by Oinam Anand. 14 February 2016

FORTY-TWO faculty members of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have come out in support of JNU students, saying that the “state cannot define who is an Indian and what is nationalism”. They have also condemned state intervention in various educational institutions, terming it as “attempts to stifle dissent and suppress differences”.

Meanwhile, faculty members of other IITs have also issued a joint statement “condemning” the arrest of JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

“We, the faculty of IIT-B, are deeply concerned with the recent events that have undermined the autonomy of institutions of higher education in this country. We believe that these institutions are spaces of critical thinking and expression. Matters of contention that might arise in the conduct of intellectual and social engagements need to be addressed democratically and rationally. These methods in turn should be within the purview of institutional procedures that are responsible and accountable,” said the IIT-B faculty members in a letter released on Thursday.


“The state cannot dictate on the many meanings of what it is to be ‘Indian’ or mandate the meaning of ‘nationalism’. Rather, the state should be the one that makes sure that multiple ways of imagining one’s relationship with the nation are allowed to flourish, especially when it might contradict dominant ways of thinking,” they said.

Among those who have signed the letter are: D Parthasarathy, professor and head of department, humanities and social sciences; V S Borkar, professor, department of electrical engineering; Aftab Alam, professor, department of physics; A Sanyal, professor, department of computer science and engineering; A Chatterjee, professor, department of aerospace engineering; Anil Kottantharayil, professor, department of electrical engineering; Dibyendu Das, professor, department of physics; Kushal Deb, professor, department of humanities and social sciences; Madhu N Belur, professor, department of electrical engineering; N C Narayanan, professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA); Purushottam Kulkarni, professor, department of computer science and engineering; Raja Mohanty, professor, Industrial Design Centre (IDC); Ravi N Banavar, professor, systems and control engineering; Supratik Chakraborty, professor, department of computer science and engineering; Aliasgar Q Contractor, professor (retired), department of chemistry; M S Raghunathan, distinguished guest professor, department of mathematics; Shrikrishna G Dani, distinguished guest professor, department of mathematics; Douglas Allen, professor of philosophy, University of Maine, USA, and visiting chair professor in Gandhian philosophy, IIT-B.

The faculty members, however, clarified that their letter reflects their stand and not that of the institution.

“A few professors at IIT-B have been discussing the increasing interference of the government as well as the drastic cuts introduced in funding for higher education including IITs. Both Rohith Vemula’s suicide and what happened at JNU is against all democratic norms and we have put out our support in the form of this statement,” said a senior IIT-B faculty member who did not want to be named.

“On February 15, the police stood by as mute spectators as a group of lawyers and hooligans attacked students and faculty of JNU… Isn’t this a ploy to silence all voices raised against this dictatorship. Hence we call upon students, faculty and staff of all higher education institutions to unite to fight intolerance against dissent and ensure that the right to freedom of expression, especially in academic institutions, is not undermined,” said another professor from CTARA.

Meanwhile, some faculty members of Pan-India IITs also issued a joint statement on Thursday. “We, the scholars and faculty of departments of humanities and social sciences of IITs across the country, condemn the police action in JNU and the arrest of the JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on the charge of sedition. We also denounce the repeated acts of violence unleashed by some lawyers and others at the Patiala House Courts against faculty, students and the media, as well as police inaction regarding the same. We also criticise the general atmosphere of fear and intimidation that is being created to target the entire university,” they said.

“We see the attack on JNU as one of a series of attacks on academic autonomy and the liberal ethos of learning. The attempt to ban the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle at IIT-Madras, questionable appointments at various institutions of higher education, and the recent attack on the Ambedkar Students’ Association at the University of Hyderabad leading to the death of research scholar Rohith Vemula, must be seen as a part of a very disturbing trend,” said the statement.

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