The Banaras Hindu University on Wednesday claimed that it had not taken any decision to appoint philanthropist and Reliance Industries Limited Non-Executive Director Nita Ambani as a visiting professor, reported ANI. The statement came a day after more than 40 students protested outside Vice Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar’s residence and submitted a memorandum.
“It is notified that no such official decision has been taken by the university administration to appointy Nita Ambani as a visiting professor or to offer responsibility to conduct teaching in any faculty/class/centre of the University,” the statement from the university read. “Neither any such administrative order has been issued.” The university’s administration said that such an appointment had to be approved from a competent authority.
However, BHU’s Dean of the Social Sciences Faculty Kaushal Kishore Mishra had confirmed that an invitation was extended to Ambani, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday morning. “We do academic and research work related to women empowerment, along with graduation and post-graduation courses,” he said. “Following the BHU tradition of involving philanthropic industrialists, we sent a letter to the Reliance Foundation asking Nita Ambani to join the Women Study Centre as a visiting professor so that we can benefit from her experience. We did this because the Reliance Foundation has done a lot of work in the field of women empowerment.”
The offer to be part of the visiting faculty was also sent to Adani Foundation Chairperson Priti Adani and Former Arcelormittal Limited Director Usha Mittal, reported the newspaper. The Women Study Centre has three positions for visiting professors.
Earlier on Wednesday, Reliance Industries Limited dismissed the reports on Ambani being invited to join the university as fake. “Reports that Nita Ambani will be a visiting lecturer at Banaras Hindu University [BHU] are fake,” the company told ANI. “She hasn’t received an invitation from BHU. [The] administration has not issued a notice or given the appointment of a visiting professor to Nita Ambani, in any faculty/department/centre in the university.”
On Tuesday, protesting BHU students had opposed the decision, alleging that it “smacked of a conspiracy”.
“We are setting up a wrong example,” said research scholar Shubham Tiwari, according to PTI. “Being the wife of a rich person is not an achievement and these people cannot be our icons. If you talk about women empowerment, then invite icons like Arunima Sinha, Bachendri Pal, Mary Kom or Kiran Bedi.”