IIT Madras ban Ambedkar discussion group

CHENNAI: Students are now being ‘banned’ from criticizing the Indian prime minister. All it takes to shut down a discussion group is an ‘annonymous’ complaint, and it would seem, heads of state run institutions will bend over backwards to snuff out dissent. IIT-Madras has banned a discussion forum for students following an anonymous complaint that it tried to spread “hatred” against Prime Minister Modi by mobilizing SC/ST students to question government policies on the use of Hindi and the ban on beef production. The  affected students were denied a hearing.

The decision followed after the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) made an inquiry regarding the anonymous complaint it had received on the activities of the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle (APSC) on the IIT campus. The complainant had enclosed one of APSC’s pamphlets reproducing a speech which criticized the Modi government and its policies.

In the letter to the IIT director dated May 15, Prisca Mathew, under secretary to the government of India, wrote, “I am directed to forward herewith a copy of anonymous letter alleging serious complaints received from students, IIT-Madras along with pamphlet issued by Ambedkar-Periyar study circle on the above mentioned subject and to request that comments of the institute may please be sent to this ministry at an early date.”

A week later, on May 24, the IIT dean (for students), Sivakumar M Srinivasan, sent a terse email to the coordinators of the APSC informing them that they had been “derecognized”. Members of APSC are now up in arms pointing out that the HRD ministry’s action and the IIT’s decision to ban their activities was based on an anonymous complaint by right-wing groups and that they were denied a hearing.

The group demanded to know how an ‘anonymous’ letter represented the majority opinion of students of IIT-Madras. “We object to the fact that the dean has derecognized our study circle unilaterally without giving us a fair hearing and an opportunity to represent ourselves. In our interaction with the dean of students, we have been told that our study circle engaged in “controversial activities” and violated the code of conduct of independent student bodies. We are clear in our stand that we have not misused any privileges given by the institute,” said a member of the APSC, seeking anonymity.

 

The APSC was created as a discussion forum on April 14, 2014 by a group of politically-inclined students from IIT-Madras to promote the ideology and writings of B R Ambedkar and Periyar. The objective was to initiate debates on socio-economic and cultural issues while examining them through the prism of Dalit rights and aspirations of the backward classes.

 

The ‘controversial’ pamphlet that the MHRD forwarded was the copy of a speech by a Dravidian University academic R Vivekandanda Gopal on the “Contemporary relevance of Dr Ambedkar”. The event was organised by the APSC on the campus. The pamphlet reproduced portions in which the speaker had criticized the Modi regime for “pro-corporate” policies such as the Land Acquisition Bill and insurance and labour reforms. He had also accused the government of “communally polarizing” people by introducing a ban on cow slaughter and through ghar wapsi programs.

 

Justifying his decision, dean Sivakumar M Srinivasan, said, “There are certain procedures to be followed and in this case, the APSC has broken the basic code of conduct. They have misused privileges given to them. So the action was inevitable.” He said after receiving the letter from MHRD, he conducted an enquiry and found that “the allegations were true”.

 

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Posted by on May 29, 2015. Filed under Breaking News,INDIA -WIDE. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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