Economist Arvind Subramanian has resigned as a professor from the Ashoka University, saying that the exit of political scientist and commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta has “devastated” him, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. Subramanian, the former chief economic adviser, said it was “ominously disturbing” that despite being a private university it can no longer protect or give space to academic freedom and expression.

This comes two days after Mehta stepped down from his position. While the reasons for his resignation are not yet known, Mehta has been a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government.

In a letter to Ashoka University Vice Chancellor Malabika Sarkar, Subramanian said his resignation will come into effect from the end of this academic year, according to The Indian Express. With Mehta’s exit, Subramanian wrote, that the university’s “commitment to fight for and sustain the Ashoka vision is now open to question”. He added that such circumstances make it difficult for him to continue being part of the faculty.

Subramanian had joined Ashoka University in July last year as as a professor of economics. He is also the founding director of Ashoka Center for Economic Policy.

Read the full text of Arvind Subramanian’s resignation letter:

Dear Malabika,

As you know, I came to Ashoka University with the aim of teaching students, and building a centre for economic policy to build our national capacity for high-quality research, analysis and communication. With the University’s support, especially of key trustees, the Centre has been taking shape – with events, research projects, teams of talented researchers, and resources – beyond what I could have hoped for, especially considering the pandemic-induced constraints. The exciting sense was growing that some of our long-term goals would be achieved. And I was really enjoying getting to know and work with the brilliant students and colleagues of Ashoka.

However, the circumstances involving the “resignation” of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me. I am acutely aware of the broader context in which Ashoka and its trustees have to operate, and have so far admired the University for having navigated it so well.

But that someone of such integrity and eminence, who embodied the vision underlying Ashoka, felt compelled to leave is troubling. That even Ashoka – with its private status and backing by private capital – can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom is ominously disturbing. Above all, that the University’s commitment to fight for and sustain the Ashoka vision is now open to question makes it difficult for me to continue being part of Ashoka.

So it is with a sense of deep regret and profound sadness that I am writing to submit my resignation from the University which will take effect from the end of this academic year. I wish you and the University, and especially its gifted and motivated students – who are the heart of Ashoka – success in the future.



PS: As a courtesy to my colleagues in the economics department, and in the interests of transparency, I will be sharing this email with them.

— Source: The Indian Express