JTSA extends solidarity with the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle which has been ‘derecognized’ by the IIT Madras administration for reasons which appear simultaneously vague and motivated. While the official communication from the Institute alleges “misuse of the privileges”, it offers no further details. It is certain however, now, that the derecognition followed an anonymous complaint forwarded by the MHRD. The bulk of the allegations are these: the APSC spoke out against caste-based discrimination and forced vegetarianism on campus; it critiqued the policies of the present government and the Prime Minister. The MHRD as well as the IIT Madras administration ought to have realized that these do not constitute allegations at all.
To express our opinion, even stinging critiques, is a right afforded to us by the Constitution. Debating issues like love jihad and ghar wapsi, or questioning economic policies of the government cannot constitute incitement to hate. Institutions of higher learning are meant to nurture critical thinking and engagement with contrarian ideas.
The Minister may today wash her hands off the controversy by citing the Institution’s autonomy, but why did she feel the need to forward an anonymous letter full of petty complaints to the IIT administration? Why the need to intervene in local debates and public meetings of an autonomous institution? What this entire episode shows is that notwithstanding their attempts to appropriate anti-caste icons, the Right wing remains deeply threatened by the radical message of Ambedkar and Periyar.
Released by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association