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Ashoka University accepts ‘lapses’ over resignations of Mehta, Subramanian

‘We will work to rectify these in consultation with all stakeholders’
Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta.
Getty Images

Our Bureau   |   New Delhi   |   Published 21.03.21, 12:37 PM

Ashoka University on Sunday acknowledged "lapses in institutional processes" and expressed "deep regret" at the recent events surrounding the resignations of political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta and noted economist Arvind Subramanian from its faculty.

Meanwhile, Mehta wrote a letter to students, urging them to not "press" for his return asserting that the circumstances that led to his resignation will not change in the foreseeable future.

The university in Haryana's Sonipat became the centre of a controversy earlier this week, when Mehta, who had resigned as its vice chancellor two years back, chose to step down as professor, saying that the founders made it "abundantly clear" that his association with the institution was a "political liability".

Subramanian, the former chief economic advisor to the government, had resigned from the university two days later in solidarity with Mehta.

"The Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ashoka University express deep regret at the recent events surrounding the resignations of Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Prof. Arvind Subramanian who have been extraordinary colleagues and faculty members at Ashoka University," the university said in a statement.

"The University has been privileged to have been led, guided and counselled by Pratap 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," it added.

"Arvind brought eminence, stature, fresh ideas and energy to the University. He is one of the  premier thinkers about the Indian and the global economy. He leaves a void that will be hard to  fill," the statement further noted.

"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," the institution said.

"Pratap and Arvind would like to emphasize that Ashoka University is one of the most important  projects in Indian higher education. They are sad to be leaving Ashoka, especially its  outstanding students and faculty. They continue to believe strongly that Ashoka University  should embody a liberal vision and commitment to academic freedom and autonomy. And they  remain lifelong friends and well-wishers of the institution and are committed to its success  wherever they are," the statement from the university concludes, adding that the two professors will remain "available for advice and consultation to the university in the future".

The students have called for a two-day boycott of classes from Monday in protest over the developments. Mehta, however, said he wants to close this chapter.

"The underlying circumstances that led to the resignation will not change for the foreseeable future, in my case, at any rate. So I must close this chapter. I urge you not to press on this matter. I know you will be disappointed. But if I may exercise one last bit of professorial discretion: your mission is larger than the fate of two Professors, Mehta said in his letter addressed to the students.

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