Saturday, February 21, 2015
Amartya Sen Resigns
Professor Amartya Sen has withdrawn his candidature for the Second Term as Chancellor of Nalanda University, the prestigious International University the Indian government has set up. The reason is apparent reluctance of powers that be in Delhi to clear his appointment, even after being elected by the University board, and use the protocol requirement of President's approval of the Board Decision to signal their disapproval to Professor Sen's appointment.
Professor Sen's resignation has been met with the usual flood of ridicule on social media by the current Prime Minister's ardent supporters. Professor Sen was always an outspoken critic of the current Prime Minister on ground of his Human Rights records, and once he came to power, a retribution was expected. Indeed, Professor Sen's resignation taints the whole Nalanda University project - who wants to go to an university lorded over by Fascist lackeys - and undermines India's soft power further.
However, this may not matter to India's Human Resources Minister, who owes her job to loyalty rather than ability and usually the blunt instrument to smother academic freedom in India (see my earlier post on Academic Freedom in India). Just as China opens up its Higher Education and shows serious aspirations to be one of the best in the World, the Indian government continues to treat Higher Education just as the Colonial Administrators did - a machine for making Babus - to the peril of the country.
India is the only country trying to build a modern economy with a poorly educated labour force, says Professor Sen. Indeed, the current ideology of wining-and-dining foreign investors and handing out tax and other inducements to foreign investors to invest in India, rather than making a compelling case for them to come in for the educated labour force, is very much prevalent in this administration, which, as signaled by its choice of HRD Minister, does not value education beyond its uses for ideological propaganda.
And, this is my broad point about Professor Sens resignation, that it is not just violation of academic freedom, which each isolated case indeed appears to be, but rather a joined-up ideological campaign to turn the Indian academia into an instrument of mind-mending. I am not suggesting grand designs, but the usual banality of evil, the step-by-step violation that may eventually end up in a grand design. While Indians enjoy the country being commended for its democracy, Indians have started taking the democracy for granted. There are instances in history, where ruthless authoritarians, preaching economic well-being, had taken over democracies from within and led it to ruin. At those precise points in history, the population of those unfortunate countries took its political system for granted - and were ready to trade a little liberty for a little prosperity. This event reminds me again that India faces a real danger - of a gradual authoritarian take-over - and we may have started seeing early symptoms of it.
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the...
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are ...
This has been the best and worst of the times for Higher and Professional Education. While people pursuing Higher and Professional Educati...
The inspiration behind this post comes from several conversations with my colleague Pratik Dattani, the former UK Director of FICCI, an In...
It is possible to see the recent history as an interplay between Politics and Economics, and 2016 as some kind of inflection point that ma...
Over the last several decades, the politics of college has reached a consensus: Everyone seemed to agree that more people attending colleg...
I wrote previously about the College Trap ( see here ) - how college can't be denied to anyone in a democratic society and yet, the pr...
It only seems natural to hire people who fit the organisation's culture. In fact, the most common excuse for executive failure is the ...
I came across the term, 'self-colonialization', in a news report on Arundhati Roy's recent speech in Berlin. She was speaking ...
Despite the euphoria in the Indian media, new-found confidence of the Indian businessmen and the sense of optimism on High Street, India rem...
How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.