New Delhi, March 20: Leading economist Raghuram Rajan has described the departure of academicians Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian from Ashoka University as a "grievous blow to free speech". Reacting to resignations of Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram Rajan said founder of Ashoka University "have succumbed to outside pressure to get rid of a troublesome critic". Arvind Subramanian Resigns As Professor From Ashoka University Two Days After PB Mehta’s Resignation, Says 'Varsity Can No Longer Provide Space for Academic Expression and Freedom'.
"Free speech is the soul of a great university. By compromising on it, the founders have bartered away its soul," Rajan, a former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, said in a LinkedIn post. "Ashoka’s founders should have realised that their mission was indeed not to take political sides but to continue to protect the right of people like Pratap Bhanu Mehta to speak, for in doing so, they were enabling Ashoka to make its greatest contribution to India’s wellbeing identifying what is wrong and encouraging us all to remedy it," he added. Economic Crisis: Fall in GDP Alarming; Time for Bureaucracy to Take Meaningful Action, Says Raghuram Rajan.
Rajan went on to say a good university creates an environment where ideas for progress and change arise. "Static societies where criticism is silenced are doomed societies, which eventually succumbs to the weight of their authoritarianism and groupthink," he opined. His reaction came days after Mehta, an eloquent critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, resigned as a professor from Ashoka University.
"After a meeting with Founders it has become abundantly clear to me that my association with the University may be considered a political liability. My public writing in support of a politics that tries to honour constitutional values of freedom and equal respect for all citizens is perceived to carry risks for the university. In the interests of the University I resign," Mehta wrote in his resignation letter.
Two days after Mr Mehta's departure, Arvind Subramanian, who returned from the US to be chief economic adviser during the Modi government's first term, resigned as faculty. He wrote: "...the circumstances involving the 'resignation' of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta...have devastated me...that someone of such integrity and eminence, who embodied the vision underlying Ashoka, felt compelled to leave is troubling."