Indian students question freedom of speech after Modi critic quits top Indian university


New Delhi March 22 (Online): Students in India protested against the curtailment of freedom of speech after one of the country’s most prominent intellectuals and a fierce government critic from a top university tendered his resignation.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a respected scholar on political theory and constitutional law, had long been dismayed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, firing off stinging editorials and speeches denouncing the “death of liberalism”.
The Oxford and Princeton alumnus had already stepped down as vice-chancellor of Ashoka University in 2019, reportedly because the trustees were worried by his outspoken views, but remained a political science professor.
But last week he threw in the towel, saying that the board of the university — founded in 2014 as a bastion of the liberal arts and India’s answer to the Ivy League — saw him as a “political liability”.
“My public writing in support of a politics that tries to honour constitutional values of freedom and equal respect for all citizens is perceived to carry risks for the university,” he said in his resignation letter.
Ashoka’s founders met Mehta recently and said they could no longer protect him in the “current political environment”, the Indian Express daily reported.
According to the university´s student newspaper, Mehta´s resignation was endorsed by the board because it would speed up efforts to acquire land needed for an expansion.