TISS students’ body demands revocation of Dalit PhD scholar’s suspension | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

TISS students’ body demands revocation of Dalit PhD scholar’s suspension

Apr 22, 2024 08:50 AM IST

TISS Students' Union demands revocation of Dalit scholar's suspension, labeling it as 'anti-national.' Timing and lack of transparency raise concerns.

Mumbai: Four days after Dalit PhD scholar Ramadas Prini Sivanandan was suspended for two years over his activism, which was termed as ‘anti-national’ by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the Students’ Union (SU) of the institute has raised serious concerns and demanded revocation of the suspension order.

TISS students’ body demands revocation of Dalit PhD scholar’s suspension
TISS students’ body demands revocation of Dalit PhD scholar’s suspension

The student body argues that this action appears to be calculative, as it coincides with most students being away on vacation, limiting their ability to effectively respond to the scholar’s suspension.

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Ramadas, who is also a student leader, had received a show cause notice from the institution’s registrar on March 7 objecting to his activism, specifically his participation in the Parliament March in Delhi in January. On April 18, TISS administration issued a suspension order against Ramadas and termed his activism as ‘anti-national’.

In a notice issued by the institute on Saturday defending the suspension order, TISS said Ramadas exhibited a pattern of prioritising personal political agendas over academic commitments despite repeated advisories from the TISS administration.

Several students are voicing their unhappiness over the institute’s decision and are raising concerns on social media. The students’ body said the institute did not contact them before suspending Ramadas. The union also said the administration never called any student representative at the meeting held by the committee to discuss Ramadas’s social behaviour.

Several students are also raising suspicion over the timing of the action taken against Ramadas, coinciding with the Lok Sabha elections. Accusations of labelling students as ‘anti-national’ and attributing baseless charges of ‘hurting religious sentiments’ have sparked controversy and questioned the administration’s motives.

In its statement, the TISS Students’ Union quoted Article 16(5) of its Constitution and said, “All students shall have the right to be protected from prejudiced academic evaluations unrelated to academic performance based on the student’s views, opinions, political associations, organisational memberships, or the instructor’s biases based on the character of the student.”

Students also raised concerns regarding the TISS’s departure from its core mission of fostering critical thinking, potentially succumbing to external political pressures.

The statement also pointed out that the transparency issues surrounding the decision-making process and the involvement of relevant student bodies, such as the SC/ST cell, have further eroded trust between students and the administration. It also raises a question regarding the composition and decision-making authority of the empowered committee responsible for student suspension.

In response to these concerns, the TISS Students’ Union has issued a strong demand for the reconsideration and revocation of the suspension and show cause notices. Additionally, they call for the institutional recognition of independent student organisations on campus, in line with constitutional rights and institutional guidelines.

The statement is concluded by saying that the students’ union asserts its commitment to defending constitutional rights and vows to resist any infringement on the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. The administration has yet to respond to these demands.

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