DU: Institutionalisation of Bigoted Culture, say Teachers on Cancellation of Manoj Jha Lecture
The cancellation of the lecture of Rajya Sabha MP and Professor Manoj Jha by the University of Delhi has invoked sharp criticism from teachers' groups who maintained that Delhi University showed a debasing of institutional and academic decision-making.
Jha, Rajya Sabha MP and a Professor at Delhi School of Social Work, was invited on August 18 by the Centre for Professional Development in Higher Education (CPDHE), UGC-HRDC, University of Delhi, to deliver a special lecture on "Political Social Work: New Opportunity for Practice".
However, the lecture was cancelled on August 30 due to unavoidable reasons.
Commenting on the development, Nandita Narain, President of Democratic Teachers Front, said that the undignified manner in which the CPDHE cancelled the invite to a resource person like Jha to address and engage in discussion with teachers for a course of Social Work and Social Sciences is not merely a disrespect for him; it is a complete disregard for the academia.
"It is one more instance of institutionalising an intolerant and bigoted culture in the University of Delhi. Such institutionalisation allows the Director of CPDHE to excessively pack orientation/refresher/development programmes for teachers with resource persons and chief guests holding the ideological views of the ruling dispensation while excluding all contrarian views."
Narain, also Convenor of the Coordinating Committee for Democratic United Teachers Alliance, said that typically, such exclusion is carried out by leaving out persons with contrarian views.
"It appears that Jha got invited due to oversight by the vigilante since he is known for his criticism of the ideological position of the ruling dispensation both as an academic and political social worker. It is a disgrace for an eminent institution and strikes at the very idea of a University."
Aditya Narain Mishra, President of Academics for Action and Development Teachers Association and Joint Candidate for DUTA elections, said," The decision of CPDHE is arbitrary, autocratic and reflects the fast shrinking space for academic freedom and debates and discussion. We strongly oppose this decision, which is also a serious attack on a teacher's dignity and freedom of expression. Besides being a vocal and active parliamentarian, Jha is a former Head of Department and Professor of Social Work."
Sachin N, Coordinator, Common Teachers Front, said that the cancellation is an act of disrespect and insult by CPDHE towards a towering academic.
"This attack on the dignity of the DU teacher has to end immediately. The thought police in uniforms and otherwise have no place in the academia/University where free, unfettered discussion and debate should thrive instead," he said.
He added, "The academic promotion of those in power and exclusion of any critics, dissenters or those not in the good books of the ruling dispensation is an abject state of unfreedom. The total silence of the current DUTA leadership on this attack on the dignity and academic stature of a DUTA member shows how compromised and biased the leadership under NDTF has been on academic issues and self-respect of common teachers."
He talked about how a censure and punitive regime has been invoked against freedom of thought and expression in the academia, whose victims include Prof GN Saibaba, Prof Hany Babu, Prof Sabyasachi Das, Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Safoora Zargar and Disha Ravi.
"We are being told to mind the power in the backdrop of the targeted killings of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dhabolkar, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh and the extrajudicial extermination of Pandu Narote and Stan Swamy."
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