More than 150 renowned academics from the world’s best known universities have written an open letter to the trustees, administrators, and faculty of Ashoka University, Sonepat, expressing solidarity with Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta who recently quit the university citing Founders’ insecurities over Mehta’s criticism of the government.
“A prominent critic of the current Indian government and defender of academic freedom, he had become a target for his writings. It seems that Ashoka’s Trustees, who should have treated defending him as their institutional duty, instead all but forced his resignation,” read the letter.
The signatories include Homi K Bhabha of Harvard University, Erwin Chemerinsky of the Berkeley School of Law, Rogers Smith of the University of Pennsylvania, Milan Vaishnav of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Kate O’Regan of Oxford University.
The letter went on to say: “The university must be a home for fearless inquiry and criticism. We support Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his practice of the highest values of intellectual inquiry and public life.”
Mehta, who had earlier quit as Ashoka University Vice-Chancellor in July 2019, abruptly resigned from his faculty position on Tuesday, saying, “…my association with the University may be considered a political liability.”