Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian believe Ashoka University should embody a liberal vision, the joint statement said.
Ashoka University, Sonepat, has admitted that there have been “lapses in institutional processes” surrounding the exits, last week, of two top academics citing free-speech curbs. The privately-funded liberal arts institution has said it will “work to rectify” these slips “in consultation with all stakeholders”. Acknowledging their eminence, a joint statement from the university’s top functionaries and the two outgoing faculty members, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian, sought to emphasise that the two continue to believe in it being “one of the most important projects in Indian higher education”.
“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 statement said.
“They continue to believe strongly that Ashoka University should embody a liberal vision and commitment to academic freedom and autonomy,” it said.
The joint statement was signed by Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Vice-Chancellor Malabika Sarkar, Mr Mehta, Mr Subramanian, and Ashish Dhawan, the Chairman the university’s Board of Trustees.
A critic of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, Mr Mehta quit as Ashoka University Vice-Chancellor in July 2019 but remained a professor. On Tuesday, however, he abruptly resigned from that position, too, saying his “association with the University may be considered a political liability”. Two days later, Mr Subramanian, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s former Chief Economic Advisor, resigned as faculty expressing sadness at Mr Mehta’s departure.
Their exits from what is said to be India’s first privately-funded institution of higher education dedicated to the liberal arts sparked howls of protest from the international intelligentsia. This included former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan to professors and academics from Harvard, Oxford, and Brown universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.