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Economist Arvind Subramanian Resigns from Ashoka University ‘Devastated’ by Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s Exit

Subramanian wrote in his resignation letter that PB Mehta who is someone of integrity and eminence and embodied the vision underlying Ashoka University felt compelled to leave was ‘troubling’ to him.
Arvind Subramanian

Arvind Subramanian. Image Courtesy: The Indian Express

Noted economist Arvind Subramanian has resigned from his position of professor at the Department of Economics in Ashoka University while citing the controversial exit of Pratap Bhanu Mehta from the institute. Subramanian said he was “devastated” by Mehta, former vice-chancellor of Ashoka, being “compelled” to leave and found it disturbing that the university, even with its private status and capital, could no longer provide space for academic expression and freedom.

Referring to Mehta, a noted scholar and political commentator, resigning from the university on Tuesday two years after he stepped down as the vice-chancellor, Subramanian raised a question over whether his colleague was forced to leave. Similar questions were raised by other academics including Delhi University professor Apoorvanand who said in an article that Mehta’s resignation could not be seen as a personal decision given his reputation of being a fierce critic of the government and hinted at the university acting upon pressure from the ruling regime.

In his resignation letter, Subramanian, former Chief Economic Advisor of the Narendra Modi-led government, said, “…the circumstances involving the ‘resignation’ of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me. I am acutely aware of the broader context in which Ashoka and its trustees have to operate, and have so far admired the University for having navigated it so well.” He continued,  “But that someone of such integrity and eminence, who embodied the vision underlying Ashoka, felt compelled to leave is troubling. That even Ashoka—with its private status and backing by private capital—can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom is ominously disturbing.”

Further questioning the vision of the university that advertises itself as a world-class “pioneering liberal initiative” and encourages students “to think and to question”, Subramanian said in his letter, “Above all, that the University’s commitment to fight for and sustain the Ashoka vision is now open to question makes it difficult for me to continue being part of Ashoka.”

Subramanian’s resignation that comes two days after Mehta’s will take effect from the end of this academic year, the economist wrote in his resignation letter addressed to the University’s Vice-Chancellor Malabika Sarkar. Subramanian had joined Ashoka University in July last year and was the founding director of the new Ashoka Center for Economic Policy.

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