Interference in administration of academic institutes

  1. In January of this year, Dr. Sandip Trivedi, a widely respected physicist, was appointed the director of TIFR by a selection committee chaired by one of India’s most well-known scientists, C.N.R. Rao. But the institute was told by the prime minister’s office that Trivedi had to be removed from his post, and Trivedi stepped down. This led to a good deal of public criticism, and the government told the TIFR in June that Trivedi could return as director.
  2. In December, Raghunath Shevgaonkar, the director of the IIT Delhi, also resigned from his position, alleging government interference in the IIT’s decisions.
  3. In March, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, who chaired the governing board of IIT Bombay, protested against meddling by the government and made it clear that he was unwilling to serve in future activities.
  4. In late February the government asked the famous writer Sethumadhavan to leave his position as chairman of the National Book Trust. Following Sethumadhavan’s removal, his position was given to a Hindutva ideologue, Baldev Sharma, a former editor of the journal Panchajanya.
  5. More recently, the government has proposed a bill that would give it direct control over India’s thirteen IIM’s, the country’s main institutions for postgraduate education in management. This has been sharply protested by the directors and chairmen of the institutes themselves.
  6. Indian Council of Historical Research, Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, is perhaps more well known for his Hindutva-oriented opinions than for any historical research he has done. For example, in his paper “Indian Caste System: A Reappraisal,” Rao praises the caste system, which—we are told—is often “misrepresented as an exploitative system.” Rao’s strong links with the group called Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY), which is known as the “history wing” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has been a source of concern in the academic community, especially after four ABISY activists were appointed to the council of the ICHR. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a leading historian and the chief editor of the official journal of ICHR (the Indian Historical Review), resigned in protest against the transformation of the ICHR.
  7. The new head of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Dr. Lokesh Chandra, appointed by the Modi government, has informed The Indian Express that “from a practical point of view [Modi] supersedes the Mahatma [Gandhi].” Chandra has also expressed the view that Modi is, in fact, “a reincarnation of God.” Chandra has said he believes that six million Koreans trace their ancestry back to an Indian princess from Ayodhya.

About Raghu Mahajan

Physics PhD student at Stanford University:
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