New Delhi: Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who recently resigned as Professor of Ashoka University, has written to the varsity’s students, saying that their protest was also about the “dark and ominous shadows looming over India’s democracy”.
Calling them “Superheroes” in a letter on Sunday, he said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and affection displayed by the students of the university.
“Ashoka, as an institution, stands indicted before your bracing moral clarity and deep political wisdom. Your protests grasped instantly, what we, as elders failed to adequately understand. Your protest was not about two individuals. It was about Ashoka’s institutional integrity. But it was also about the dark and ominous shadows looming over India’s democracy,” Mehta said in the letter.
Authoritarianism hovering over us: Mehta
“We live in complicated times. India is bursting with creativity. But the dark shadows of authoritarianism are also hovering over us, putting us all in often uncomfortable and sometimes dishonourable situations. We will have to find principled and intelligent ways of overcoming this condition.
“As we worry about Ashoka, you also reminded us that the challenges we face pale in comparison with what our academic colleagues in universities elsewhere in India face,” Mehta said.
“So what can we, those who let you down, say to you? In all candour, this episode will be seen to have hurt Ashoka’s reputation. But in a larger sense, Ashoka’s reputation will be enhanced, not by what the University did but what you did,” he added.
Mehta said the underlying circumstances which led to his resignation will not change in the foreseeable future. “So I must close this chapter. I urge you not to press on this matter. I know you will be disappointed,” he added.
“I come from a small town, Jodhpur and there is a saying in Marwari which begins, ‘Dharam reh si, reh si dhara’, or, where there is dharma the earth is preserved,” he said.