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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

Tata Institute of Social Sciences suspends Modi-critic Dalit PhD scholar for two years

Ramadas had on January 12 participated in a demonstration outside Parliament against the NEP’s alleged promotion of the privatisation of education. He had held up a banner of the Progressive Students Forum (PSF)-TISS. The institute considered this a gross misuse of its name and an act of misconduct

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 22.04.24, 06:10 AM
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The Tata Institute of Social Sciences has suspended for two years a Dalit PhD scholar who had protested the country’s education policy outside Parliament and last year helped screen a documentary critical of Narendra Modi on the campus.

Late on Saturday night, the students’ union at TISS issued a statement alleging a lack of transparency and due process in the institute’s decision to suspend Ramadas K.S. and questioning its timing.

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The PhD student with the School of Development Studies had last month been issued with a showcause notice for his alleged involvement in “anti-national activities”.

Ramadas had on January 12 participated in a demonstration outside Parliament against the National Education Policy’s alleged promotion of the privatisation of education. He had held up a banner of the Progressive Students Forum (PSF)-TISS. The institute considered this a gross misuse of its name and an act of misconduct.

Also, after Prime Minister Modi attended the January 22 temple consecration in Ayodhya, Ramadas had posted pamphlets on social media inviting students to a screening of the documentary, Ram ke Naam, on January 26. The film by Anand Patwardhan raises questions about the Ram temple movement.

However, the film was not eventually screened, a student told The Telegraph. The showcause notice mentioned Ramadas’s posts on the documentary.

It also says that Ramadas had screened a “banned” documentary, India: The Modi Question, on the campus in January 2023. The two-part BBC film takes a critical look at Modi’s time as Gujarat chief minister and Prime Minister, and the Indian government had got certain social media platforms to take down the documentary.

The notice used the expression “anti-national activity” without specifying the activity.

On April 18, the day Ramadas was suspended, a few other students were issued with showcause notices for “anti-national” activities over the screening of the Modi documentary last year.

The decision to suspend Ramadas was taken on the recommendation of an empowered committee.

Ramadas had been admitted to the integrated MPhil-PhD course in 2017-18. In 2020, he began the PhD programme. He stayed at a hostel on the campus but says he gave up the seat last November.

However, the institute has thought it fit to accuse him of staying at the hostel “for a prolonged period”, depriving accommodation to deserving students.

The statement from the students’ union, the officially recognised representative body of the students, said: “Now, especially when it is the season of general elections in the country these notices are being sent out labeling students as ‘anti-national’ and giving baseless accusations as ‘hurting religious sentiments’. This questions the intention of the administration on these matters and looks very much suspicious.”

An email has been sent to vice-chancellor Manoj Kumar Tiwari seeking his comments on the allegations of opacity in the decision to suspend Ramadas. His response is awaited.

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