TISS alumni condemn suspension of Dalit PhD scholar | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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TISS alumni condemn suspension of Dalit PhD scholar

Apr 28, 2024 06:40 AM IST

In the appeal, the alumni have called upon the TISS administration to reconsider the suspension order, emphasising that revoking it would reaffirm the institute’s commitment to its core principles and serve as a beacon of inspiration for future generations of students

Mumbai: In a show of solidarity, more than 600 alumni from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have unanimously issued a statement denouncing the suspension and debarment of Dalit PhD scholar Ramadas Prini Sivanandan. The appeal, spanning various batches, courses, and campuses, has urged the TISS administration to overturn the two-year suspension imposed on Ramadas.

TISS alumni condemn suspension of Dalit PhD scholar
TISS alumni condemn suspension of Dalit PhD scholar

Last week, the TISS administration imposed a two-year suspension on Ramadas and banned his entry to all campuses. Ramadas is a first-generation learner from the Dalit community. The administration cited his involvement in activities such as participating in a ‘United Students of India’ rally and promoting the documentary ‘Ram ke Naam’ as grounds for the disciplinary action, labelling his actions as ‘anti-national’.

Expressing shock and dismay, the alumni have deemed the suspension order contradictory to the democratic principles and constitutional ethos championed by TISS. Labelling the disciplinary action against Ramadas as unprecedented and alarming, the alumni have emphasised the institute’s legacy of fostering critical thinking and analysing state policies from the perspective of social justice and inclusivity.

The statement has also raised larger questions about freedom of speech and expression. “The Institute has always encouraged its students to explore beyond the classrooms, a facet integrated across its courses. TISS must remain a space where students have the freedom to engage in social justice movements and advocate for social change without the fear of punishment,” reads the statement.

Highlighting Ramadas’ background as a Dalit and first-generation learner, the alumni have argued that his suspension contradicts TISS’s commitment to social justice and inclusivity, which have been foundational to the institute’s mission.

In the appeal, the alumni have called upon the TISS administration to reconsider the suspension order, emphasising that revoking it would reaffirm the institute’s commitment to its core principles and serve as a beacon of inspiration for future generations of students.

The alumni who signed the statement include students of the 1977 batch, some of whom are faculties in the Indian Institute of Technology, and Indian Institute of Information Technology, and some postdoctoral PhD scholars from top universities like the University of Pennsylvania, University of Manchester and University of Edinburgh.

TISS gets a new chancellor

Professor Dhirendra Pal Singh has been appointed chancellor of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) for a period of five years. The ministry of education issued the order on April 26.

In a career spanning nearly four decades, Singh has held a number of significant positions in the higher education sector, including chairman of the University Grants Commission and director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. He was also vice-chancellor of three universities, the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, Dr HS Gour University in Sagar, and Devi Ahilya University in Indore.

Singh has also been involved in various educational committees and councils, including the Central Advisory Board of Education, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and the Implementation Committee of the National Education Policy, 2020.

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