Will work to rectify lapses in institutional process: Ashoka University

Mehta, a strong critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, also wrote to the students on Sunday
Following a controversy triggered by the resignations of two high-profile professors, former vice chancellor Pratap Bhanu Mehta and former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian, in quick succession, Ashoka University on Sunday acknowledged that there were some “lapses in institutional process” and said it would work to rectify them in consultation with all stakeholders.

In a joint statement issued with Mehta and Subramanian, the university expressed “deep regret” at the recent events surrounding their resignations. Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Vice Chancellor Malabika Sarkar and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Ashish Dhawan were the signatories on behalf of Ashoka.

Mehta and Subraman­ian’s resignations, however, stand.

Mukherjee and Dhawan also wrote separate letters to Ashoka students, faculty, alumni, parents and founders reaffirming the university’s commitment to academic freedom and intellectual independence.

In the joint statement, the university said: “We acknowledge that there have been some lapses in institutional processes, which we will work to rectify in consultation with all stakeholders. This will reaffirm our commitment to academic autonomy and freedom, which have always been at the core of the Ashoka University ideals.”

Referring to them as “extraordinary colleagues and faculty members”, Ashoka University stated it had the privilege of being led, guided and counselled by Mehta, first as vice chancellor and then as senior faculty. “He has worked closely with the faculty and founders over the years to take the university into a position of being rightly acknowledged as a great centre of learning, teaching and research,” the statement read.

As one of the leading thinkers of Indian and global economy, Subramanian's exit, too, would leave a “hard to fill” void, the statement added.

As signatories to the statement, Mehta and Subra­manian said they were sad to be leaving Ashoka University, which was "one of the most important projects in Indian higher education".

The statement added that both remain available for “advice and consultation to the university in the future”.

In his letter to students and alumni, Dhawan promised an open line of communication (full text: 'Committed to freedom': Ashoka University's Chairman of Board of Trustees). “I admit that the departures of Professors Mehta and Subramanian make us all feel a tremendous loss but there is nothing for you to fear. As an institution, we are committed to freedom in every aspect,” he wrote. “We will make ourselves available for meetings with the Student Government and Alumni Council on a regular basis,” he added.

Mehta, a strong critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, also wrote to the students on Sunday. Addressing them as “superheroes”, he praised them for their “bracing moral clarity” and “rebellion grounded in a concern for freedom and democracy”.

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