KASARGOD: Kerala lawmakers condemned decision by Kasaragod-based Central University of Kerala suspend assistant professor of political science Gilbert Sebastian, who criticized the Centre’s vaccine policy and called the RSS-BJP a proto-fascist organization during its class.
Student organizations, with the exception of the plaintiff ABVP, have asked the university to revoke the suspension order.
Shashi Tharoor of Congress also echoed their demands. Debate him, don’t silence him, suggested Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram.
Writing on Twitter and Facebook, Tharoor said he was concerned about the dwindling space for dissent on campuses when reviewing the national education policy.
Rajmohan Unnithan, member of Kasaragod Lok Sabha and head of Congress, wrote to Human Resources Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal âNishankâ to request his intervention to revoke the suspension of Dr Sebastian.
âThe teacher has all the qualifications and all the merits to teach. Proto-fascism is a technical term and he used it in his class to describe and elaborate on certain political situations. Such a witch hunt is a transgression of academic freedom from the university. profession, âUnnithan said.
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CH Kunhambu, MPP MP in Udma, where the university is located, said the suspension of teachers for giving lectures would instill fear in the minds of young thinkers and teachers. In his letter to Vice-Chancellor Prof H Venkateshwarlu, he said: “The university should revoke the suspension and maintain academic freedom and create a fearless, healthy and uncensored education space.”
During his online course at Fascism and Nazism on April 19, Dr Sebastian of the Department of International Relations and Politics said: âThe RSS and its affiliated organizations, together called Sangh Parivar, which means that the Sangh family (including the BJP) in India can also be considered proto-fascist. “
Proto-fascist movements are those influenced by classical fascist organizations.
In the class, he said that Spain under General Franco, Portugal under Salazar, Argentina under Juan Peron, Chile under Pinochet, the apartheid regime in South Africa and the ultra-nationalist and supremacist Hutu movement of the Rwanda in the early 1990s could be considered proto-fascist. , and asked whether India under Narendra Modi since 2014 was one.
In the same class, the assistant professor also criticized the government for exporting vaccines at a time when the country’s vaccine needs were not being met. âIt shows their patriotism,â he said.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – the student wing of the RSS – threatened mass protests if the VC did not act against the professor.
A Vinod Karuvarakundu, member of the National Education Monitoring Committee (CS, ST, People with Special Needs and Minority Education) of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, also lodged a complaint with the Vice-Chancellor. In his letter, he alleged that Dr Sebastian tried to “instill hatred and poison” in the minds of first semester master’s students against the democratically elected government led by Narendra Modi.
Vinod Karuvarakundu was the former chairman of the Kerala Unit of the ABVP.
Kerala Students’ Union State President of Congress, KM Abhijith, said it was likely the first time in the country that a teacher has been suspended for content shared in an online class.
The University’s Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) said the complaint filed by the ABVP was a distortion of the facts and also an attack on academic freedom. The suspension also amounted to infantilizing the students, he said. “Does the university think that aspiring political science graduates are infants who are unable to voice their opinions against their teacher if they find the argument illogical?” It said.
The CPM-affiliated Indian Federation of Students (SFI) said the suspension was evidence of the excessive influence of the ABVP and RSS on the administration. âThe ABVP acts as a vigilance group in the classrooms,â he said.
The Muslim Student Federation (MSF), affiliated with the Muslim League of Indian Union (IUML), said any attempt to silence critical voices was fascism.
Instead of debating the issue and countering the charge, the teacher’s suspension leaves them (the exemption) vulnerable to characterization, said the political scientist, a Chinese scholar and human rights activist Professor Manoranjan Mohanty.
V Sivadasan, a member of Rajya Sabha and leader of the CPM, said that Dr Gilbert was suspended for critically evaluating the policy of the RSS-BJP in the classroom.
“The suspension is an act of cowardice aimed at restricting academic freedom and critical thinking, without which the idea of ââa university is dead,” he said and added that the Modi government should also end imprisonment attempts by universities. âIdeas cannot be suspended,â he said.
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