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Professor who taught on footpath, has no political ambition #Neerajhatekar

I have no political ambition: Neeraj Hatekar
Monday, Jan 20, 2014, 10:04 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

His suspension not only sparked a heated debate over the falling health of the University of Mumbai and rising unrest among the students, but also exposed the functioning of its authorities forcing them to revert their decision. Professor of econometrics Neeraj Hatekar, 47, is the man of the moment. He spoke at length with Kanchan Srivastava.

Your reaction on revocation of suspension?
My suspension was illegal. The charges of moral turpitude and breaching the code of conduct framed against me held no truth as per the university’s statute. Still, I was suspended by the vice chancellor with the backing of a politician (refusing to name). Now, if the probe panel finds some substance in the issues raised by me, what would the university do?

You approached the media instead of using the in-house fora?
If someone points out that his emperor is not wearing clothes, does that mean the person has brought disrepute to the kingdom? Did paper leaks, exam delays, blunders in results not get bad names for the varsity? Public universities are run from tax payer’s money; I am also a tax payer and it’s my duty to raise a voice if I find any wrongdoing. In the past two years, I raised many issues with the vice chancellor, including appointments of ineligible people in various bodies. But I have not received any reply. I filed a PIL in the high court which directed the VC to provide the information to the Chancellor. It didn’t happen; so, I filed an affidavit. Approaching the media was my last option. I did so as a convenor of the joint action committee on higher education reforms, not as a teacher.

What’s next?
I would continue teaching; but the students’ agitation which was launched to support me, would be at forefront now.

Some claim you had mobilised students and teachers to garner support and instigated the agitation.

I didn’t instigate anything. Today, writer Rajan Gavas told me that he has gathered signatures of girls from 125 villages of Maharashtra to support me. Jagdish Bhagwati, Ramchandra Guha and teachers from other universities appealed for me on their own.

Do you think autonomy is hampering public universities?
Universities are not given full autonomy as funds come from the government and appointment of a VC is totally political. Actually, too many affiliated colleges and an opaque system of selection of members of various bodies are responsible for the decline of higher education. These bodies are supposed to get people with diverse knowledge so that best decisions can be taken for the welfare of young people. In reality, a small group of people with vested interests rules these bodies.

Some say you nurture political ambitions?
I will never join politics. Even if I take voluntary retirement, I will go to my hometown Panchgani to stay with my mother. Some politicians did come to me. I told them their help was not needed, but if they wished to take up students’ issues at their level, they can do so.

 

Read mor ehere — http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/interview-i-have-no-political-ambition-neeraj-hatekar-1953959

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Why I taught class on Mumbai roadside- Neeraj Hatekar

Blog | Dr Neeraj Hatekar | Updated: January 16, 2014 14:00 IST

Blog: Why I taught class on Mumbai roadside

Mumbai Dr Neeraj Hatekar, a professor in the Economics Department at the University of Mumbai, was recently suspended by the University allegedly for criticising the Vice Chancellor. On Tuesday, he took his classes on the road outside the campus gates. Dr Hatekar has petitioned the Bombay High Court against his suspension. 

We had barely sat down to dinner on Tuesday when my PhD student Savita walked in. She seemed a little, just a little, excited.

“Amol and Narayan have been taken to the BKC police station, others have gone with them,” Savita reported, adding, “they shouted slogans and waved black flags at today’s function.”

The function, held at the Mumbai University campus at Kalina, was attended by four ministers of the Maharashtra government and the incident happened when the Vice Chancellor stood up to speak.

At the dinner table, this took some time to sink in. My wife quietly packed away the dinner, as no one wanted to eat any more.

What would happen to the students? Had they been arrested?  Would the police beat them up?

Narayan and Amol are sons of small farmers from the dryland tracts of interior Maharashtra. I had watched closely as they struggled to pay fees and mess bills when a massive drought struck their homes last year.

The hostel mess had been closed for two months then, pending an administrative decision. Some students had gone back to their home towns because they could no longer afford to eat at hotels and restaurants. Some others resorted to eating only once a day.

I remember the dharna that the students staged for two whole nights before the VC’s bungalow, expecting merely an assurance that their mess would be re-opened soon. They were disappointed. (To sir, with love: University students to protest against professor’s wrongful suspension)

Later, university officials met them amid strict police security and promised to solve all their problems. This was a year ago. The mess has been re-started but other problems remain unsolved.

Indeed, many state universities in Maharashtra, like the Mumbai University, are in a mess of a serious kind. My confrontation with the administration of the Mumbai University has helped me see what the real problem is.

The universities are supposed to be autonomous organisations, run by the various authorities like the management council, senate, academic council, research recognition committees, with the purpose of creating and disseminating quality knowledge. Unfortunately, the various committees often function for the private interests of the powerful lobbies that run them.

The Vice Chancellors are supposed to keep these strongmen in check, but they lack the stature to be able to exercise necessary control. Many times they obtain their positions through small-time politicians and then survive on their skills of managing the various factions. Academic objectives fall by the way side.

At the Mumbai University, the appointment of the Vice Chancellor has been mired in controversy since the day he joined.

At our press conference – which resulted in my suspension – we raised the point that the Vice Chancellor has provided false and misleading information to the Governor about his experience and research qualifications. (Suspended professor takes classes on the road)

His CV said that he had 25 years of teaching experience and 12 research papers. In a subsequent affidavit submitted to the Bombay High Court, he changed it to five research publications and 14 years of experience (while the mandatory experience is 15 years).

We had also raised issues of poor quality of infrastructure, the problems that students and teachers face with the credit based system that has been imposed on them and several other issues to do with the quality of education that the University has been providing. As a result of all these, the rank of the Mumbai University among Asian Universities slid from 96 to below 150.

Currently, I am under suspension for holding the press conference and “misguiding the media”. This is supposed to be a “breach of the code of conduct”. The copy of the code of conduct that I have, however, says nothing about publicly criticising the University as a member of a teachers-students’ organisation.

Read more here — http://www.ndtv.com/article/blog/blog-why-i-taught-class-on-mumbai-roadside-471737

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Prof Neeraj Hatekar suspension revoked – Long Live Student-Teacher-Karamchari Unity !

Long Live Student-Teacher-Karamchari Unity !

Long Live Campus Democracy!

A Memorable Victory for Students’ Movement!

NEERAJ

The suspension of Prof. Neeraj Hatekar has finally been revoked after 13 days of students’ protests. On January 4, Prof. Hatekar had been suspended in an extremely undemocratic fashion by the MU authorities for raising questions about our welfare, the functioning of the university and the irregularities going on in the university. On January 6, on the call of the UCDE, a students’ protest was organized demanding the revocation of Prof. Hatekar’s unjust suspension. On January 8, again, a protest was organized which was attended by approximately 400 students. When the MU authorities continued to show their callous attitude to the demands raised by the students, the students again organized Silent Protest on January 12. After that, on the call of the UCDE, students of MU held a general body meeting on January 15; it was decided in the GBM that on January 20, the students will hold a One-day Hunger Strike against the tyranny of MU authorities. Finally, on January 19, the MU authorities yielded to the demands of the students and consequently revoked the suspension of Prof. Neeraj Hatekar.

Friends, this is a victory of our collective strength and organization. The protests organized by us have been an embarrassment for the MU authorities, as the whole world was watching the simmering discontent among the MU students. The UCDE has always believed that the issue of Prof. Hatekar was not simply an issue of suspension of a teacher; it was an issue of Campus Democracy. Therefore, the revocation of suspension is a victory for Campus Democracy. This also shows that we must not stop here and continue our fight to expand the democratic space within the campus. However, at this moment, we must also convey the message of this victory among all our student friends of the campus. So, the UCDE calls upon all students, teachers and karamcharis to join a VICTORY MARCH on January 20 at 9 AM in the Kalina Campus.

University Community for Democracy and Equality (UCDE)

calls everyone to join

VICTORY MARCH

9 AM, January 20, Kalina Campus, Mumbai University

Lets unite our voices once again to celebrate this victory for Campus Democracy!

Long Live OUR UNITY! Long Live CAMPUS DEMOCRACY!

Call issued by:

University Community for Democracy and Equality (UCDE)

 

[email protected], 9619039793, 9769903589, https://www.facebook.com/ucdemu

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Mumbai University may revoke prof Neeraj Hatekar’s suspension on Saturday

Saturday, Jan 18, 2014, 7:13 IST | Agency: DNA
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray meets Neeraj Hatekar at his Kalina house on Friday.

Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray meets Neeraj Hatekar at his Kalina house on Friday. – Swapnil Sakhare/DNA

The University of Mumbai’s management council will meet on Saturday to discuss the suspension of econometrics professor Neeraj Hatekar after the governor’s call to solve the matter at the earliest.

Governor and chancellor of the university K Sankaranarayanan on Thursday asked the university vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar to resolve the issue amicably “at the earliest” and following “due procedure” in the larger interest of students.

Following the governor’s intervention, the University of Mumbai called for a management council meeting on January 18 to discuss the suspension.  “My suspension is illegal and I will be happy to be back. However, the university will have to provide reasonable answers for questions raised,” said Hatekar.

On Friday, Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray visited professor Neeraj Hatekar’s residence at the Mumbai University’s Kalina campus to extend his support to the professor and students who are fighting against the varsity’s decision to suspend the professor.

Though neither VC nor pro-VC responded to calls, a highly placed official confirmed that the governor has given an “earful” to the VC, prompting the latter to soften his stand. Revoking Hatekar’s suspension would definitely be the best solution before management council.

An official said: “The management council has two options:  1)To revoke the suspension and order a departmental inquiry. A committee could be asked to probe charges against Hatekar and submit the report within 15 days.  2)A time-bound inquiry could be ordered without revoking the suspension. The suspension would be reviewed on the basis of the inquiry report.

“The choice of the option depends upon the “severity” of the words used by the Governor,” says a MC member. He added, in either case, Hatekar would be served a chargesheet seeking his explanation

 

Read more jere — http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-mumbai-university-may-revoke-professor-neeraj-hatekar-s-suspension-on-saturday-1952841

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It was a kind of eve-teasing, says lawyer suspended for Facebook post #Vaw

Last updated on: January 10, 2014 , Rediff.com

Anima Muyarath

‘This society discriminates against a girl from the time she is born, in school, at home, everywhere,’ young lawyer Anima Muyarath, who was suspended by the local bar association for a post on her Facebook page, tells Rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier.

When Anima Muyarath, a 24-year-old lawyer in Kerala, wrote about her male colleagues on her Facebook page in October 2013, she did not realise that she would become a topic of national discussion.

The bar association in the city where she works suspended Muyarath for a month for her Facebook post.

This is what she posted on her Facebook page in October, in Malayalam: ‘It has been five months since I started practising as a lawyer… I don’t know whether the workplace in the other parts of the world is like this or not.’

‘I met several lecherous persons at the bar. It seems they do not see current Malayalam films; they still address women as ‘sugar candy, darling’ and tell them ‘You are so beautiful’…

‘They still follow the age-old practice of looking at young women as either lovers or sisters. Let me express my contempt for all these useless men.’

Her suspension has not angered or saddened Muyarath; it has amused and surprised the young lawyer.

Muyarath spoke on the telephone with Rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier about her Facebook post and how she thinks women are treated in Kerala.

You wrote the post in October five months after you joined the bar. Was it such an unexpected experience for you?

The funniest thing is what I experienced was not such a serious issue at all. If it were so, I would have registered a police case or complained to the bar association.

There are many male advocates who indulge in silly talk not only with me, but with others also.

Did you get angry when they spoke like that?

I used to feel contemptuous about those people. That is exactly what I wrote; that I was expressing my contempt.

Maybe they are such weak men that they behave so silly around women. I now think this may be happening everywhere.

The image Kerala has outside the state is that it is difficult for women to work and lead an independent life in the state. Do you feel so?

I have also heard from my friends that that is the kind of image Kerala has outside the state. As I have not worked outside Kerala, I do not know personally how it is elsewhere.

Yes, in Kerala, as a woman, one has to struggle at every juncture. But what I wrote is my personal experience and not a general statement.

Did you write that post because you were unhappy and perturbed?

Not at all. I was not unhappy or perturbed.

I was contemptuous of the men who behaved that way. It only shows what kind of people they are.

It was a kind of eve-teasing. There are two kinds of subjugation; one is to make a woman feel she is inferior to them. Or else, they make you their sister, lover or mother.

Both these are ways to subjugate a woman.

It is common practice that when they see a young woman at the bar, they immediately try to arrange a marriage for her.

Is the workplace for that? A woman goes there to work and not find a partner.

When a new male member joins the bar, they start talking about his ability while they want to arrange marriage for the girl.

They don’t even think that a woman goes there to be a lawyer!

Look at the difference in the way they look at men and women.

I do not know how it is in other workplaces in Kerala, but this is the impression I got from the bar association.

It doesn’t mean I was harassed or anything like that. It was just an exercise of freedom of speech.

You were suspended for writing the post. Did you expect such a reaction from the bar association?

What does the reaction show? That the system is so male dominated.

This is not the first time somebody has written something. There are many who write criticising even Supreme Court verdicts.

Just see what so many lawyers have written about the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 (of the Indian Penal Code criminalising homosexuality).

If they felt offended because of a small post I wrote on my private page, it is only because I am a woman.

How did the bar association let you know about the suspension?

One-and-a-half months after I wrote the FB post, I got a showcause notice.

What they said was, I had committed professional misconduct and I had insulted the entire advocate community.

If you read my post, you will see that I have never said that all were like that.

I have also not mentioned anybody’s name.

I do not know how it can be construed as a statement insulting the entire advocate community.

The showcause notice said that disciplinary action would be taken against me.

How did you respond to the notice?

I consulted my seniors and I explained my stand.

They replied that my explanation was unsatisfactory and they called me for a hearing by the end of December.

I had to go to Bangalore to write an exam when they called me for the hearing.

I wrote to them about my examination with a copy of the hall ticket. Yet they said it was not genuine and I was trying to delay disciplinary proceedings.

They took action against me in my absence without hearing me.

How are you going to deal with the suspension?

I am only a junior lawyer and I have no time or inclination to waste my time on such things.

At a time when I should be building my career, why should I waste my time going to the women’s commission or the human rights commission and pursue it?

You need a lot of time and energy to do so. I don’t think it is advisable for a junior advocate to do so.

How will the suspension affect your career?

There is nothing that prevents me from practising as a lawyer.

I am only denied the working and recreation rooms, canteen and toilet of the bar association for a month.

I may not get the rights and privileges offered by the bar association. But I can continue to go to court and practise as a lawyer.

Do you think this reflects the attitude of society as a whole, to women?

That is exactly what I feel today.

When I started my career, I was under the impression that this is one profession where you have a lot of freedom and independence to work.

I was very ambitious, but now I feel that this is how it will be.

What lies behind the reaction is male domination and the feudal nature of our society.

The Constitution provides us with the fundamental right to expression.

Imagine those who are going to provide justice are the ones who want to curb even the freedom of expression of an individual.

How did your male colleagues react to the suspension?

Nobody has told me anything. I don’t know whether they are supportive.

I came here just eight months ago.

What I have heard is, most of the male lawyers are very agitated about what I wrote. It seems they feel what I did was very bad.

I do not know why they feel offended. It only reflects the attitude of a male-dominated society.

This society discriminates against a girl from the time she is born, in school, at home, everywhere.

You feel that all the time.

How did the bar association react to the media coverage in Kerala?

They said it was only a problem within the family.

I don’t understand how the bar association became our family!

Maybe they understood using the word family is the best way to subjugate a woman!

Are you a feminist?

Yes, I am. I am influenced by feminist politics and I am more sensitive to issues related to women.

 

Read more here — http://www.rediff.com/getahead/interview/it-was-a-kind-of-eve-teasing-says-lawyer-suspended-for-facebook-post/20140110.htm

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#India – MU Suspended professor Neeraj Hatekar to hold class at varsity gate

NEERAJ

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014, 10:07 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
 Even if the Mumbai University is not changing its mind to revoke the suspension of the economics department professor, Neeraj Hatekar, his students are making efforts to ensure that they do not miss out on academics.

After requests from lots of students, Hatekar has decided to conduct sessions for the students free of cost. “Lots of students approached me to ask if I could at least have doubt-clearing sessions or teach them general concepts on economics. Since I am free now, I was more than happy to help,” said Hatekar.

The sessions will be conducted outside the Mumbai University’s Kalina Campus gate. “I am a teacher and all I want to do is teach. So, if they do not allow us on the campus, we will move our class just outside the campus but the teaching will not stop,” he said.

The session will be held every day from 3pm to 5pm.

Support for Hatekar has also poured in from economists and historians over the world. “Over 30 economists have issued a statement supporting Hatekar. The list includes Abhijit Bannerjee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Jean Dreze (Allahabad University), Jagdish Bhagwati (Columbia University) and Arvind Panagariya (Columbia University),” said Ritu Dewan, director of the economics department.

However, the University of Mumbai Academic Staff Association, of which Hatekar was a former general secretary, has not come out in support.

After a few of the permanent teachers demanded for a meeting, BL Jadhav, president of this academic staff association replied in a letter, “The Association has not received copy of any sort of communication regarding any conflict between Dr. Hatekar and University Administration.

Therefore, the association could not take any stand on the issue of Dr Hatekar’s suspension.”

 

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Jagdish Bhagwati and Global economists decry #Neerajhatekar suspension

English: Jagdish Bhagwati

English: Jagdish Bhagwati (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

TNN | Jan 14, 2014,

 

MUMBAI: Thirty eminent economists, including Jagdish Bhagwati, MIT’s Abhijit Banerjee and others from across the globe, have raised their voice against suspension of econometric professor Neeraj Hatekar. Meanwhile, Hatekar has decided to hold lectures for his students on the street outside the Mumbai University campus to contain their academic loss.

Hatekar taught Microeconomics-II, a compulsory subject, to second semester students of MA Economics, and multiple linear regression and its extension, an elective, to Semester IV students. A total of 118 students were being taught these two courses by him.

“MA Economics is a credit-based course. A minimum of 72 credits are required to clear it and exams are held every six weeks. The suspension has put the fate of students in serious doubt as the university administration has not charted out any plans to deal with the academic implications,” said a note issued jointly by the Save Mumbai University Campaign and University Community for Democracy and Equality.

Meanwhile, a battery of economists—Princeton University’s Dilip Abreu, MIT’s Abhijit Banerjee, University of California, Berkeley’s Pranab Bardhan, Columbia University’s Jagdish Bhagwati, Harvard University’s Rohini Pande, Sujoy Chakravarty from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Arvind Panagariya from Columbia University, Delhi School of Economics’ Mausumi DasAshwini Deshpande, Parikshit Ghosh, Deepti Goel and Rohini Somanathan, and several others—have termed Hatekar’s suspension as disturbing.

“His suspension on the grounds of ‘spreading false propaganda’ and ‘moral turpitude’ looks like an attempt to muzzle dissent, intimidate critics and avoid scrutiny on the part of the university authorities,” they said in a note that was distributed among them all.

“The university is meant to be a place for the fearless pursuit of truth. The actions taken against professor Hatekar are a threat to academic freedom and the integrity of our institutions of higher learning. We find this to be a disturbing trend and protest it in the strongest terms.”

These economists have demanded that Hatekar’s criticism of the administration deserves to be taken seriously and he should not face punitive action until the truth is verified by an independent committee or a court of law. “The vice-chancellor, in this instance, cannot credibly act as an impartial judge since he himself stands accused of serious wrongdoing,” they said in the note.

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE- Mumbai University Students denied freedom of expression #FOE

Save Mumbai University Campaign
Press Release: January 12, 2014

State Police stopped Mumbai university students from reaching near the convocation venue to register their silent protest against Prof. Neeraj Hatekar’s unjust suspension on January 12, 2014. Mumbai University security as well attempted to curb students’ voice by confiscating the protest material forcibly on the previous night of the protest. It implies that the university denies freedom of expression to students along with the professor.

Save Mumbai University Campaign organized a silent protest on January 12, 2014 outside the venue of the convocation (i.e. Sports Complex, University of Mumbai, Kalina) against the unjust suspension of Dr. Neeraj Hatekar amidst the larger cause of the apathy of the administration towards the functioning of the University. MU students informed the Mumbai University administration and Bandra-Kurla Complex police station about the protest and students ensured the officials that the protest would be silent and every precautionary measure will be taken to maintain the peace in the university campus and at convocation venue.

However, on the protest day, a police contingent comprising of 30-40 officials blocked the route of students’ march (more than 100 students). Students’ march was told that the police has been instructed by the University Administration to prevent the protesting students from reaching anywhere near the designated venue of the convocation. On being asked whether the University administration has given any such request to the police in writing, the police officials refused to respond.
After several requests to the police for more than one and half hour, the protestors decided to launch their protest at the University Gate facing Grand Hyatt. Students expressed their protest through various banners, placards and other written materials in a peaceful manner without any disruptions.
On the previous night of the protest, security officials of the University threatened the students and confiscated the material forcibly. The students were warned about strict and severe police action against them. The students silently demanded a official undertaking from the security officials and inquired about the applicable law under which the material was being confiscated. Failing to provide the both, the officials returned the materials. The altercation with the university security officials lasted for over two hours and ended at 12 am.
On this backdrop:
1) The attempts of preventing students from registering their protest in silent manner are strongly condemned.
2) First, when Dr. Neeraj Hatekar raised 16 points highlighting irregularities in the functioning of the university. The University responded by suspending him, and hence denying him his right to freedom of speech and expression.
3) Now, when the students have tried to raise a voice against the suspension and against mismanagement in the University. The University has responded by trying to stop the silent and peaceful protests of the students and hence deny them their right to freedom of speech and expression.
4) The Save Mumbai University Campaign has been protesting against the violation of freedom of speech for the past 7 days. However, it is evident that the University administration does not respect the fundamental rights guaranteed to each and every citizen of India by the Constitution of India.
5) Taking into account, the insensitivity shown by the university officials towards the issues raised by the campaign, the campaign team is considering the possibility of a chain hunger strike.

– Save Mumbai University Campaign

 

MORE PHOTOS HERE-  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1438554113042422&set=a.1438536729710827.1073741830.1436713259893174&type=3&theater

 

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#Sundayreading – Neeraj Hatekar and the imperatives of academic freedom

On academic freedom which lets students challenge a university’s policies without fear of reprisal
Neeraj Hatekar and the imperatives of academic freedom

The Mumbai University. At great universities academic freedom means students can challenge a university’s policies without fear of reprisal. Photo: Hindustan Times
When Velukar turns on Hatekar it is useful to listen to Padgaonkar.
Let me explain.
The meaning of academic freedom is where a university is recognized as a public space, an avenue where students learn to open the mind, to ask questions, to challenge established views, to learn, to defy, to understand, and to develop critical thinking. It is also a space where academics are their allies, they help them develop the thoughts, ideas, and courage to do just that. That challenge is not only over the great issues of the day—what kind of India do we want it to be—but also how our lives are affected by those who make rules governing our lives. And that includes not just governments and bureaucrats, but also academic councils and vice-chancellors.
Restrict any of that, and you get a bunch of unthinking, unemployable, obedient zombies as students, or pliant teachers unwilling to think the unthinkable; students who dare not question, teachers who do not provoke, who accept conventional wisdom as given, where bowing to authority is a virtue. Where does that lead us? Listen to Mangesh Padgaonkar’s outstanding Marathi poem about the Emergency: Salaam. (Vinay Dharwadker’s English translation here).
At great universities academic freedom means students can challenge a university’s policies without fear of reprisal. At such universities, professors can join, even lead, student-led protest movements to bring about political change. In some instances, academics also challenge the university’s policies, by standing with the picket line, exposing the hollowness of the establishment’s arguments.
In the mid-1980s, the topic that energized students most on American campuses was divestment from apartheid-era South Africa. Like many well-endowed colleges in America, my alma mater had investments in South Africa. There were two strongly held views: that our college (Dartmouth) must sell stocks in companies which did business with South Africa, because as an academic institution it should not get contaminated by profits earned from an exploitative and discriminatory system. The other view was that the profits from the stocks and capital appreciation allowed the college to offer scholarships to students who would otherwise not be able to attend college, since they and their families lacked the means. It pitted feeling good against doing good. While the debate was spirited, at no stage did any student or professor feel threatened that he or she would get suspended for taking a political stance that opposed the views of the college’s governing council, or indeed that of the president.
Fast forward 30 years later, and at another American university (Georgetown), where the university did not extend student medical insurance to cover birth control. But its president went out of the way to defend one of his students after she was insulted by a right-wing talk show host, because she had testified before the Congress advocating that such coverage be included.
Here in the UK, students have openly challenged a recent university advisory that suggests that students should be segregated by sex when they attend lectures of certain external Muslim speakers, out of deference to their beliefs. The protesting students have received support from academics and alumni. None of the dissenters are threatened with suspension or dismissal threats for defying a specific policy. Then again, left-leaning academics, unions, and students have run a long campaign to boycott academic contact with Israeli universities and academics. None of the protestors have faced any action or threat, although what they are calling for opposes the government’s view (which is against such a boycott).
That is as it should be. But don’t expect Rajan Velukar, the vice-chancellor at Mumbai University, to stand up for academic freedom to dissent or speak freely in a debate. Columbia University’s president Lee Bollinger foundMohammed Ahmedinejad’s views repugnant, but he did not interfere with the invitation to the Iranian president. Rather, he let him speak, but not before he gave a fiery speech expressing his abhorrence over the Iranian’s views.
Nor should we expect Velukar to listen carefully to criticism of his ways and make amends where necessary, as countless university administrations have gracefully done in the past. (British universities have withdrawn the controversial guideline that permitted sexual segregation among audiences after a public uproar that began on campus). After all, this is the vice-chancellor who had promptly acquiesced when Aditya Thackeray, grandson of the late Bal Thackeray, had gone to him to complain against the English department syllabus recommending that students read Rohinton Mistry’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, Such A Long Journey. The young Thackeray was upset because one of the characters in the novel expressed his frank opinions about Indian politics, in which he described the Shiv Sena in a manner he did not like. Later Congress too found parts of the novel objectionable. (You can read the controversial passages here). Tough those words may be, but Mistry’s characters’ language was gentler than the terms his grandfather often used in public speeches in describing those he opposed.
But rather than entering into a meaningful discussion about any of that, Velukar complied.
And now he has turned his ire on Neeraj Hatekar, a widely-respected and popular academic, who has been challenging the university internally, and now in the open, about administrative and academic matters. Hatekar’s is the case of the classic whistle-blower—he raised his concerns internally first, giving ample opportunity for the administration to react and respond. He concealed nothing. He has expressed his points peacefully. He has sought answers; he has challenged the status quo. By suspending him and attempting to silence him, Velukar has once again shown that he understands neither academic freedom, nor freedom of expression. It is time for the Maharashtra governor, as the chancellor, to decide whether such an individual should remain in charge of the destiny of a great university.

 

 

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#India- Suspension of Economics Prof #Neerajhatekar Rocks Mumbai University

Students hold rasta roko at Kalina campus, raise slogans against the autocratic action of the Varsity and demand withdrawal of his supension and respectful reinstatement

FPJ

Mumbai : Students held a rasta roko at the Kalina campus of Mumbai University on Monday in protest against the suspension of Professor Neeraj Hatekar from the Department of Economics.

Some 200 students barricaded the gate. Meanwhile, Hatekar who has been suspended for maligning the University’s reputation by holding a press conference and providing false information to the media has moved the High Court with his appeal of innocence.
Raising slogans against the autocratic action of the University’s administration, the students demanded withdrawal of Hatekar’s suspension and his respectful appointment to his position.
“The college management and university authorities have falsely fabricated the issue in a disproportionate, one-sided and high handed manner. It is a pre-meditated design to create scare amongst the teachers who raise their voices against the University’s degrading levels. The malafide and biased behaviour of the committee members in collusion with Vice-Chancellor Rajan Velukar, who had approved of the suspension, was part of a larger agenda to create a horror”, said one of Hatekar’s student.
“It is complete autocracy. You are living in Vice-chacellor’s empire. Don’t raise your voice against the ruler or you will be terminated,” said another.
A memorandum was presented which laid emphasis on taking Hatekar back into his position as soon as possible by the students. After three hours of protest and rasta roko, the memorandum was accepted by the University. “They are yet to state their decision, but we will keep on protesting as long as they don’t accept our demand,” said a student.
According to lecturers of several departments, Neeraj Hatekar has been targeted for raising his voice against poor academic as well as administrative performance of the University.
“Hatekar is the convenor of the Joint Action Committee for Improvement of Higher Education in Maharashtra. It is a body that has questioned the appointment of the vice-chancellor, who many staffers have claimed has doubtful academic and publication records,” informed a lecturer from the University.
Lecturers also claimed that it was Hatekar’s RTI that revealed that many of the professors also have dubious certificates as the college to which they claim to belong does not offer PG teaching in their subject.
Another lecturer told FPJ that when the management council formed for discussing Hatekar’s case met, most members supported VC’s claim that Hatekar has degraded the university’s reputation. “Most people on the MC are the VC’s men,” informed an assistant professor.
Professor Neeraj Hatekar has decided to move court against his suspension by Mumbai University for “providing false information to the media”. Hatekar said on Sunday that he “will challenge the suspension in court”.

Students, faculty join hands to support suspended professor

Mumbai Mirror | Jan 7, 2014,
Arita Sarkar

Protesting against the suspension of professor Neeraj Hatekar, nearly 50 students staged a demonstration in the Kalina campus on Monday, and also started a signature petition demanding immediate withdrawal of the suspension order.

The department of Economics faculty also submitted a resolution to the authorities, highlighting that Hatekar had simply used his right to freedom of speech.

Hatekar was suspended on January 4 by Mumbai Vice Chancellor Rajan Welukar for allegedly misinforming the media about irregularities in the varsity and for breaching the code of conduct. The suspension order had come after Hatekar held a press conference on December 12, “exposing” Welukar for mismanagement of the university.

In the conference, the professor, as director of a group called Joint Action Committee for Improvement of Higher Education, had levelled allegations such as failure to collect its share of annual student fees from colleges, several co-opted members on the boards of studies not being qualified, unusable lecture halls, malpractices in conduct of examinations and dilution of the qualifications for being a PhD guide.

On Monday, as many as 170 signatures were collected against the suspension order. Apart from the Economics department, students from several other departments submitted their own demands to the V-C.

“I have known Dr Hatekar for the past five years now. His addressing the media has not violated any code of conduct and neither has he insulted the V-C. The highlighted issues have been around since 2011. How can the university abruptly remove somebody for voicing his opinions? We want him back with respect and dignity,” said Pari Naaz, a PhD student.

The students also mentioned other demands, including new hostels and facility of virtual classrooms, among others.

Meanwhile, 18 faculty members, including director Ritu Dewan, organised a meeting on Monday in this regard and passed a resolution. Calling it a “draconian decision” in their letter, they reasoned, “Being an autonomous department, the issue should have been put forward before the department’s management and academic boards.

The violation of the basic freedom of speech prompted us to pursue the matter. There is a due process that the university needs to follow, which includes memos or show cause notices. Instead, the University has called in an emergency and used the V-C directive to issue this order. Where is the emergency here?”

University’s public relations officer Naresh Chandra, on the other hand, said, “The suspension order was issued as per the Maharashtra University Act of 1994. The decision is an institutional one and not personal. Inquiry will be conducted as per the procedure. His suspension was debated and deliberated upon by the Management Council.”

Meanwhile, denying all charges, Hatekar said he had not only written to the V- C but also to the Chancellor but never received an appropriate response. “I wrote numerous letters to the administration but there was no remedial action. We realised that there was no point of going to the university and thus took up the option of going to the media,” said Hatekar. He will be filing a petition against the university in the High Court on Tuesday.

Withdraw economics professor’s suspension’

TNN | Jan 7, 2014,

MUMBAI: The autonomous department of economics of Mumbai University has passed a resolution that the suspension order issued to one of its professors, Neeraj Hatekar, must be withdrawn.

On January 4, the university’s management council suspended Hatekar for “violating the code of conduct and moral turpitude” after he had called a press conference and spoke of MU’s decline and alleged irregularities in the institution.

In a meeting of permanent faculty members on Monday, teachers said the “draconian decision” has disrupted teaching. They added that Hatekar has adhered to the university’s code of conduct

and the press conference, he had called for, is a right guaranteed by the Constitution to express concern about the “deteriorating conditions in the university”.

The resolution, a copy of which is with TOI, said, “Our colleague has never resorted to unparliamentarily language, calumny, slander, and such that would call forth disciplinary action. We are at a loss to understand the charge of ‘moral turpitude’ levelled against him. If anything, he has shown moral courage for the sake of the good of the university.”

On Monday, Hatekar’s students came together on Monday morning and protested on Kalina campus. In a letter to the V-C, urging him to reconsider the order, they said, “He [Hatekar]…is spearheading the task of improving the academic scenario surrounding economics in the country. It is needless to mention the gravity of loss we would suffer due to his absence.”

Prashant, spokesperson of University Community for Democracy and Equality, said the V-C’s decision reflected “the shrinking democratic space within the campus”. He said, “Students have decided to take the agitation to various colleges.” Being an autonomous department, the issue should have been put forward before the department’s management board and academic board. Instead an extreme step was imposed by the university authorities.

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