Ex-Harvard professor criticizes IIT-Madras ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle
By TNN | 4 Jun, 2015, 11.25AM IST
The study circle was reportedly derecognized following an anonymous complaint that it was spreading hatred against PM Modi.
CHENNAI: Distinguished American mathematicianDavid Mumford has expressed "deep shock" over the IIT-Madras's derecognition of student groupAmbedkar Periyar Study Circle.
In a letter to IIT-M director Bhaskar Ramamurthi, which was leaked to the media, Mumford said, "I believe campuses must allow open discussion of divisive issues even when it offends some people so that all its aspects are out in the open. Today's youth are tomorrow's leaders and one wants them to think deeply about the direction to which we are headed." Mumford, president of the International Mathematical Union and a former Harvard University professor, is also a Fields Medal winner (top mathematics prize).
The study circle was reportedly derecognized following an anonymous complaint that it was spreading hatred against PM Narendra Modi, which triggered protests.
"I have strong ideas about the importance of free speech and especially the importance of allowing students to discuss vital and difficult issues that confront society today ," he said, adding, "I have also become aware, during my nearly 50 years of visiting India, of the deep social struggles that quite possibly are coming to a head as India takes a central role in the world."
Acknowledging that it was difficult to understand complexities of local disputes as a foreigner, Mumford said he writes as a long term friend of many Indian academicians. Mumford added that said he saw many similarities between India's Dalit problems and the African-American problems that have rocked the US since the beginning. "For this reason, I take Dr Ambedkar as one of my heroes," he said.
LT COL SIDDARTH BARVE