Amid escalating outrage over his resignation, academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta penned a letter to the students of Ashoka University, restating his decision to step down from his position. He stressed that, “The underlying circumstances that led to the resignation will not change for the foreseeable future.”
In the deeply admiring letter, Mehta expressed gratitude for the students’ solidarity and protest over his sudden departure.
“Giving up the company of Ashoka students and colleagues, disrupting our lives, and leaving a fine university, is not an easy decision. But it is, for me, the only honourable thing to do, consistent with my values; values I think you share,” he wrote.
Mehta did not illustrate, but alluded to the events leading to his resignation, urging students to not press on the matter. He stated, “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 positions. We will have to find principled and intelligent ways of overcoming this condition.”
He also expressed his hope in the future of the university, writing that, “I hope the Trustees and Faculty will work with you to secure your renewed trust and confidence. With your guidance they will be able to secure the institutional autonomy and freedom Ashoka needs.”
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a vocal critic of the ruling government, had resigned from Ashoka University earlier this week, following a meeting with the institutions founders, which made it clear that his association with the university could be considered a “political liability”.
Fellow professor and former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian also tendered his resignation in support two days later, stating that the University could “no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom.”
The resignation led to students expressing unconditional solidarity with the professor, and staging protests inside the campus. They alleged the resignation was as a result of ‘external pressures.’