252 academics issue statement against MP’s query

“We write as concerned teachers and scholars who are or have been affiliated with Indian institutions of higher education. This statement is with reference to a letter sent by the University Grants Commission to the Registrar, All Central Universities, on March 16, 2023 regarding a Parliament Question,” reads the statement.

The signatories highlight that the UGC statement demanding academics and educational authorities to answer “whether the book contained language that was derogatory to Indian citizens and whether it supported terrorism” is “extremely alarming” and a “punitive threat” since professors usually don’t decide the texts to be included in the curriculum.

“It is more often the case that syllabi are made, especially in the humanities and the social sciences, to expose students to varied historical and cultural perspectives,” the statement read.

The statement highlights that Yadav’s question generalises all books written by Pakistani authors as “derogatary” by leaving out the name of the particular book in this case. The signatories claim that this is yet another attack on Muslim universities such as Jamia Milia or AMU.

“Leaving the book unnamed allows the question to be read as suggesting that any book by any Pakistani author might possibly be read as being “derogatory to Indian citizens” and “supporting terrorism” — Attempts to continually link central universities with identifiably Muslim associations, such as Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia, with “terrorism” must be resisted in every possible way,” reads the statement. 

“Not doing so will only endanger our own lives, the lives of our children, and, perhaps more importantly, the very possibility of a future world in which difference and equality may coexist,” the statement adds.

“Our role as teachers is precisely to encourage students to discuss, question and learn about these perspectives, not to endorse or follow them uncritically,” the signatories assert.

Yadav’s question was listed for hearing in the Rajya Sabha for Wednesday, March 22, however, a holiday has now been declared on the day on account of several festivals.

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