Debate on Campus over Freedom to Discuss Politics

Published: 31st May 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2015 08:57 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: The Fifth Estate (T5E), the official in-house journal of IIT-Madras, in an article titled ‘Dissent and De-recognition-the APSC issue’ has attempted to explain the heated debate over freedom of expression that has been raging for the past two days, with the article including a copy of the anonymous letter that sparked the controversy and the letter from the HRD minister including comments from both sides of the divide.

Far from being the mouthpiece of the institute, the article quoted Deepak Johnson, former students’ general secretary as saying, “If we can recognise and respect Ambedkar as the Constitution builder, why is it too difficult for us to digest his views on caste and Hinduism? It just shows our hypocrisy about the whole issue and as someone pointed out, unravels the inherent casteism present in many of our minds - especially that of our administration.”

      >>Related: Spate of Protests in Chennai Over IIT Madras Row

“I have attended Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) programmes and they were very critical of many Central government policies. But how is that spreading hate? If we, educated students, should not discuss politics, then who do they expect to speak up?” asks Veena Mani, Ph.D scholar.

The article also quotes former office bearers U Mahesh Kurup, MS councillor 2014-15 and Siddharth Dialani, former co-curricular affairs secretary, both of whom are  critical of the APSC and its members.

The article notes that for a student body to be recognised, a faculty advisor is mandatory. Dean MS Sivakumar claimed that he was the faculty advisor to APSC.

According to the article in T5E, the members of APSC claimed that Professor Milind Brahme from the Humanities and Social Sciences Department was their faculty advisor.

“So far I have been under the impression that I was the faculty advisor, whom the group consulted before organising any lecture/discussion,” T5E quoted professor Brahme as saying.

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