The OP Jindal Global University in Haryana has asked political scientist and veteran author Achin Vanaik to express regret for the remarks against Zionism and Hindutva that he made during a lecture on the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
On 13 November, Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, the registrar of the university told Vanaik that the statements made by him during his lecture on 1 November were gratuitous and unrelated to the subject.
In his lecture, Vanaik drew parallels between Zionism and Hindutva nationalism and questioned why one act of violence is labelled terrorism and others are not.
He also said that Zionism and Hindutva were different as the former was “not anti-Muslim” while the latter was “fundamentally and foundationally anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic.”
Interestingly, the registrar described Vanaik’s characterisation of Zionism as “informative” but said the scholar’s comments on Hindutva were “unnecessary and objectionable.”
The registrar said that Vanaik had put OP Jindal Global University in a vulnerable position by failing to exercise prudence while speaking about sensitive subjects.
“We live in challenging times,” Patnaik wrote in the letter. “We must exercise the precious privilege of academic freedom with grave responsibility and mindfulness of context and perceptions of others.”
The university’s letter comes after many right wing handles accused Vanaik of making “anti-Hindu” remarks.
The Israeli embassy in India has also raised concerns about the lecture.
On November 3, the Israeli ambassador to India Naor Gilon wrote a letter to the university’s Vice Chancellor C Raj Kumar, expressing his “concern and extreme disappointment” about a lecture delivered by Vanaik.