Bias cry on research council

Madhu Kishwar

New Delhi: The government has nominated academic Madhu Kishwar and author D.D. Pattanaik as members of a social science research body, prompting some scholars to allege that the council appears to be loaded with Hindu upper castes.

Kishwar is a known supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pattanaik, a retired political science professor, has studied the cultural nationalism advocated by RSS and authored the book Hindu Nationalism in India.

Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar last week also nominated four others - including J.K. Bajaj from the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, and M.P. Bezbaruah, who teaches economics at Guwahati University - as members of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, ICSSR sources said.

The new nominations came six months after the minister rejected 26 of the 39 names recommended by a search panel set up by the ICSSR.

Among the academics rejected by Javadekar last June were Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das, Manipur University VC Aditya Prasad Pandey, Professor R.S. Despande, who has authored 17 books and 110 papers on economics, education policy expert J.B.G. Tilak and former Bangalore University VC M.S. Thimappa.

Of the 17 members nominated by Javadekar, most belong to Hindu upper castes. In June, the minister had nominated to the ICSSR well-known followers of RSS ideology such as Rakesh Sinha, Deen Bandhu Pandey, Sanjya Satyarthi and P.V. Krishna Bhatta.

This newspaper sent an email seeking the HRD ministry's perspective to its spokesperson before 11am on Wednesday. The mail was acknowledged and forwarded to the officials concerned immediately. However, there was no response till late in the evening.

Former council member, Professor Kancha Ilaiah, said social science research should deal with the socio-economic cultural condition of people and that it should stress on equality.

"The ideology of the BJP and the RSS never deals with the notion of equality. Its discourse is to sustain inequality, caste system and man-woman differences. With people of that ideology in the council, they cannot build social science that could be understood and appreciated by the world at large," Ilaiah said. He said the council should have better representation of Dalits, backward classes and minorities.

Another former member of the council said the ICSSR should have proportionate representation from all regions of the country. The present council has many members from Delhi.

The council has a chairperson, a member secretary, 18 non-ex-officio members, six government representatives and one co-opted member.

The term of the former non-ex-officio member ended in November 2014. The ICSSR then constituted a collegium of eminent social scientists to suggest names to the search-cum-selection panel. It recommended 195 names, including those of Dipankar Gupta, Satish Deshpande, Bina Agrawal, P. Balakrishnan and Rajeev Bhargava.

The search committee headed by Sachidananda Joshi had sent 39 names.

The members appointed in June 2017 are professors Deen Bandhu Pandey, P. Kanagasabapathi, Sanjay Kumar (Satyarthi), H.S. Bedi, H.C.S. Rathore, Panchanan Mohanty, Amita Singh, K.S. Khobragade, T.S. Naidu, Rakesh Sinha, Aswini K. Mohapatra, P.V. Krishna Bhatta and S.D. Pandit.


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