Political scientist and commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta on Tuesday resigned as a professor from the Ashoka University, less than two years after he stepped down as its vice chancellor. The reasons for his resignation are not yet known.
Professor of English and Ashoka University Vice Chancellor Malabika Sarkar said Mehta’s contribution to the institution was immense. “A valued colleague, an exceptional teacher, and a former vice chancellor who guided Ashoka towards establishing itself as a research university, he will be missed by all of us,” she said.
Mehta is a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government. When asked if his writings and criticism were connected to the resignation, the university did not comment, The Indian Express reported. “During his tenure as vice chancellor and member of faculty, he has contributed immensely to the university,” a spokesperson told the newspaper. “Ashoka University wishes him well for his future endeavours.”
Mehta is a graduate in philosophy, political science, and economics from Oxford University, and has a PhD in politics from Princeton University. He has also been a lecturer at Harvard University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and the New York University School of Law.
He is a contributing editor at The Indian Express, where he writes a regular column. Mehta was also previously the president of the Center for Policy Research.
The Edict – an independent student newspaper of Ashoka University – said Mehta’s exit was part of the efforts to acquire a new plot of land to expand the campus. It also said that Mehta in an email to his students thanked them for “being an inspiration”. He also revealed that “after discussions with the university about prevailing circumstances”, it was best for him to move on.
Historian Ramachandra Guha indicated that Mehta’s questioning of the government was connected to the resignation. “In its journey thus far, Ashoka University had shown much promise,” he said in a tweet. “They may have frittered all that away by the spinelessness of their Trustees, who have chosen to crawl when asked to bend.”
Journalist Aakar Patel said this has now become an endemic. “My columns were dropped from BCCL [Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited, or The Times Group] papers after call from PMO [Prime Minister’s Office [Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra],” he said in a tweet. “Modi wants everyone to love him and his policies or shut up.”
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