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Sunday, January 17, 2016
101 longstanding readers and contributors express concern over EPW Editor’s resignation
101 longstanding readers and contributors express concern over EPW Editor's resignation
Longstanding readers, contributors and admirers of the Economic & Political Weekly, the social science journal-cum-magazine published from Mumbai, have written to the trustees of the Sameeksha Trust expressing concern at the resignation of its Editor, Dr. Rammanohar Reddy. The 101 signatories of the letter have said that it would be "profoundly unfortunate if such dedication, personal sacrifice, and unstinting effort from an extremely successful Editor were to end in an unhappy and ungracious parting of the ways."
Here is the full text of the letter with a forwarding note to the trustees from N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd.:
January 15, 2016
To the Trustees of the Sameeksha Trust
1. Deepak Nayyar (Chairman of the Board of Trustees)
2. DN Ghosh (Managing Trustee)
3. Romila Thapar
4. Andre Beteille
5. Deepak Parekh
6. Rajeev Bhargav
7. Jean Dreze*
8. Rammanohar Reddy (ex-officio)
I write to forward the letter on behalf of the undersigned 101 longstanding readers, admirers, and friends of the Economic & Political Weekly (EPW), proud members of the "EPW community" that has benefited from the existence and flourishing of this high-quality publication that will soon be celebrating its Golden Jubilee. We have a vital stake in EPW maintaining its democratic, progressive, and independent character. We wish to raise, directly with the Board of Trustees of the Sameeksha Trust, our serious concerns over recent developments, the unusual circumstances that have led an upstanding and outstanding Editor of EPW to announce that he is resigning from his position as Editor and severing all links with the institution. As our letter makes clear, we are addressing you in constructive spirit, in the hope and expectation that our concerns and suggestions will be taken on board, and acted upon, in the decisions made by the Board of Trustees in the days ahead. We would be grateful if we could receive from the Board a considered response to our concerns and the issues we have raised in our letter.
With our best regards,
January 15, 2016
Letter to the Trustees of Sameeksha Trust
We write to you today as longstanding admirers of EPW and as proud members of the "EPW community" that has benefited from the existence of this unique and high-quality journal. We wish to express our concern at what we have heard of the unusual circumstances in which the incumbent Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly, Dr. Rammanohar Reddy, who had decided to step down in April 2016 but had agreed to continue as Editor-in-Chief or in some other position as requested by the Board of Trustees, has chosen to formally announce that he is resigning from his position as Editor and severing all links with the institution.
In our view, Ram Reddy's decision to accept the role of Editor at a crucial juncture in the history of the journal, despite the considerable personal (and economic) sacrifice it involved, was only the first indication of his commitment to the journal and its objectives. In the eleven years since then, he has succeeded in transforming the journal into a consistently excellent and contemporary periodical, which is widely seen as an internationally unrivalled journal –- one that combines fine scholarship with social conscience. He has done much to streamline organisational functioning, significantly improve and diversify journal content, stabilise the journal's financial position, mobilise additional resources to expand editorial staff and enable EPW to have its own office, give EPW a strong online presence with commercially marketed archival access, and strengthen the EPW Research Foundation. In sum, Ram Reddy as Editor did an exceptional job of re-energizing and contemporizing EPW at a time when many felt it was showing its age and at risk of losing its edge. All this he did in a self- effacing and accommodating style that has won him respect and admiration across ideological lines. It would indeed be profoundly unfortunate if such dedication, personal sacrifice, and unstinting effort from an extremely successful Editor were to end in an unhappy and ungracious parting of the ways between him and the EPW Board of Trustees.
We understand that the Board had questioned the appropriateness of his efforts to produce a set of volumes and a documentary to commemorate the completion in 2016 of fifty years of the journal's existence, even though he had organised the required funding from outside. In addition, he had been excluded from any role in the future governance of the journal and also kept out of the formal process of finding a successor, even though he clearly is the person most thoroughly involved with and informed about the editorial and financial conditions and requirements of the journal, and therefore conscious of its future needs. We believe that involving him as a member of the Board of Trustees would be a natural next step following his retirement, and one that would be widely welcomed in the broader community of contributors and readers of EPW. We therefore sincerely request the Board of Trustees to reconsider its decisions in this regard, so that all of us feel secure about the future of the journal and can participate with full enthusiasm in the celebrations to mark the fifty years of EPW's existence. We propose that Ram Reddy be asked to take up and continue the activities he had planned to celebrate this anniversary. We also strongly urge that he be included and given a role in the process of selecting the new Editor, and that such a selection be done in an open and transparent manner with all Trustees invited to be part of that process. We believe that in the interests of continuity and to build on the achievements registered during his tenure, it would be ideal if Ram Reddy is persuaded to take on a role in the transition to a new editorial regime and in the future governance of the EPW, preferably as a Trustee.
The progressive and democratic character and legacy of the EPW all suggest that once they appoint the Editor, the Chairman and Trustees of Sameeksha Trust, who are non-executive Trustees, must scrupulously respect his or her editorial independence and judgment and must not seek to exercise hands-on control over the way EPW is managed and run, as long as the Editor keeps the Board of Trustees informed. The EPW is in effect a public institution, not only because it receives substantial support from public sources like the Reserve Bank of India, the UGC and the ICSSR, but because, as Ram Reddy puts it in his letter announcing his departure, finally, "it is the larger 'EPW community' of writers, readers, staff, and a large circle of associates that has looked after it through good times and bad and helped it grow."
We are all deeply committed to maintaining the democratic, progressive, and independent character of the EPW. It is in that spirit that we write to you: in the hope and expectation that these suggestions will be taken on board in the decisions that you make in the days ahead.
In addition, we would be happy to help in any way that we can and that you find appropriate. We recall that within a few years of his taking over, Ram had a very fruitful brainstorming session with some members of the 'EPW community' on the future directions which EPW could take. We believe that such a meeting might be extremely useful in the current context, and if you choose to call such a meeting with some of us, we would be happy to attend.
1. Itty Abraham, National University of Singapore
2. Dilip Abreu, Princeton University, USA
3. Isher Ahluwahlia, Chairperson, Indian Council for Research into International Economic Relations, Delhi
4. Montek Singh Ahluwahlia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India
5. Sabina Alkire, George Washington University, USA
6. Venkatesh Athreya, former Professor, Bharatidasan University,Tamil Nadu
7. Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
8. Abhijit Banerjee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
9. Pranab Bardhan, University of California, Berkeley, USA
10. Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University
11. Rana P. Behal, Delhi University
12. Aditya Bhattacharjea, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University
13. Neeladri Bhattacharya, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
14. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
15. Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University, New York, USA
16. Sugata Bose, Harvard University, USA
17. Achin Chakraborty, Director, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
18. Pinaki Chakraborty, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
19. C. P. Chandrasekhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
20. Partha Chatterjee, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata
21. Sudip Chaudhuri, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata
22. Anuradha Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
23. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
24. Angus Deaton, Princeton University, USA
25. Ashwini Deshpande, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University
26. Satish Deshpande, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University
27. Ritu Dewan, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai
28. Biswajit Dhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
29. Navroz Dubash, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi
30. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Ashoka University, Delhi
31. Rajmohan Gandhi, University of Illinois, USA
32. Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Apropos today's letter to the board of the Sameeksha Trust signed by 101 eminent scholars, this is to clarify that I share their concerns and have submitted my resignation from the board over this issue, effective from 31 March 2016.