Economist Arvind Quits Ashoka University 2 Days After Mehta’s Exit

Subramanian found it troubling that someone with Mehta’s integrity felt compelled to leave Ashoka University.

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Education
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Renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has resigned from Ashoka University as a professor.
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Renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has resigned from Ashoka University as a professor, two days after noted social scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta stepped down from his post.

Subramanian’s reason for leaving seems to be in protest of Mehta’s resignation, noting, “that even Ashoka – with its private status and backing by private capital – can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom is ominously disturbing”.

Subramanian says that he finds it troubling that someone like Mehta, with “such integrity and eminence who embodies the vision underlying Ashoka, had to leave”.

Political scientist and scholar Pratap Bhanu Mehta tendered his resignation as professor from Ashoka University on Tuesday, 16 March. The university had avoided answering a question on if the resignation was due to Mehta’s criticism of the incumbent government.

In his letter, Subramanian wished the university and its students success in the future, and further said that “the circumstances involving the 'resignation' of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me”. The letter was first shared by The Indian Express.

He stated that it was hard for him to continue being part of the university because he now questioned its commitment to fight for its vision.

Subramanian joined Ashoka University as a professor in the department of economics in July 2020. He said in his letter that his resignation will take into effect before the end of this academic year.

A former chief economic advisor to the government of India, Subramanian is also the founding director of the Ashoka Center for Economic Policy, which is working towards becoming a globally competitive source for generating ideas and research on global economic development, with a focus on Indian economic development.

Arvind’s Resignation Letter

Subramanian submitted his resignation letter in an email to the university's VC Malabika Sarkar. The full letter, first reproduced by The Indian Express, is as follows:

Dear Malabika,

As you know, I came to Ashoka University with the aim of teaching students, and building a centre for economic policy to build our national capacity for high-quality research, analysis and communication. With the University’s support, especially of key trustees, the Centre has been taking shape—with events, research projects, teams of talented researchers, and resources—beyond what I could have hoped for, especially considering the pandemic-induced constraints. The exciting sense was growing that some of our long-term goals would be achieved. And I was really enjoying getting to know and work with the brilliant students and colleagues of Ashoka.

However, the circumstances involving the “resignation” of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me. I am acutely aware of the broader context in which Ashoka and its trustees have to operate, and have so far admired the University for having navigated it so well.

But that someone of such integrity and eminence, who embodied the vision underlying Ashoka, felt compelled to leave is troubling. That even Ashoka—with its private status and backing by private capital—can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom is ominously disturbing. Above all, that the University’s commitment to fight for and sustain the Ashoka vision is now open to question makes it difficult for me to continue being part of Ashoka.

So it is with a sense of deep regret and profound sadness that I am writing to submit my resignation from the University which will take effect from the end of this academic year. I wish you and the University, and especially its gifted and motivated students–who are the heart of Ashoka–success in the future.

Sincerely,

Arvind

PS: As a courtesy to my colleagues in the economics department, and in the interests of transparency, I will be sharing this email with them.

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

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