320 Economists from 91 Institutions Extend Support to Prof Sabyasachi Das, Demand His Reinstatement

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Department of Psychology has also extended solidarity to assistant professor Sabyasachi Das after the Haryana-based Ashoka University accepted his resignation.

NEW DELHI — As many as 320 economists from 91 institutions across the country have extended their support to Prof Sabyasachi Das, whose paper suggesting voter manipulation in the 2019 elections sparked a controversy, demanding the Ashoka University to immediately reinstate him.

In a statement in solidarity with Prof Das, the economists said: “We, economists working in India, strongly believe that academic freedom is the cornerstone of a vibrant educational and research community, and that everyone must have the right to pursue knowledge, share their findings, and engage in open dialogue without the fear of censorship or retribution.

“We stand in solidarity with Prof Sabyasachi Das and extend our support for the demands of the economics department at Ashoka University. We urge the Governing Body of Ashoka University to immediately reinstate Prof Das unconditionally.”

Earlier, several departments of the Sonepat-based private university had also demanded that Prof Das and Prof Pulapre Balakrishnan be offered their positions back unconditionally by the varsity.

Days after Prof Das’s resignation, Professor Balakrishnan had also resigned in protest over acceptance of resignation of the former.

Psychology Dept expresses solidarity with Prof Das

Department of Psychology has extended solidarity to assistant professor Sabyasachi Das after the Haryana-based Ashoka University accepted his resignation.

Das resigned from the university after his paper suggesting voter manipulation in 2019 elections sparked a controversy. Later, Professor Pulapre Balakrishnan also resigned in protest over acceptance of resignation of Das.

The department has demanded that Das and Balakrishnan be offered their positions back unconditionally by the varsity.

“Department of Psychology expresses unwavering support and solidarity with Sabyasachi Das and Pulapre Balakrishnan from the Economics Department and they should be offered their positions back unconditionally, with a clear commitment to upholding their academic freedom and autonomy. We pledge our unequivocal support for the demands and plan of action put forward by the Economics Department in their resolution,” read the statement issued by the department.

“We ask that the University recognise the Academic Freedom Committee as the body to implement transparent and accessible institutional safeguards for faculty, staff or research assistants in these situations. We are extremely distressed by the precedent that these current and past resignations set for academic censorship and research productivity, especially given that these faculty members have not violated any aspect of common academic practice or university policy.”

“It is particularly vital for us to not capitulate to the powers that try to suppress academic freedom so that we can continue to teach our students to think critically in classrooms without a sense of pretense. We cannot do our jobs as teachers and researchers without clear protections for academic freedom,” the Psychology Department said.

Earlier in the day, Media Studies Department of the varsity while extending their support to Das and Balakrishnan in a statement said: “We stand with all our colleagues in the unanimous asking professors Sabyasachi Das and Pulapre Balakrishnan to remain as Ashoka Faculty, without delay.

“Recent events have once again brought up the need to create and ensure a functioning firewall between Ashoka University’s Faculty and its founders/ governing body, on the protection of academic freedom and expression. This must now be a priority.”

“Concrete suggestions on how to go about creating a secure space that allows free expression to flourish in academia have been made by several of our colleagues. We fully endorse the efforts to create institutional safeguards to protect academic freedoms to read, write, say and publish to rigorous standards, without fear of extreme institutional backlash,” it said.

It added that, “Our department, as a collective of diverse practitioners in the media space, is well aware of both the realities and perceptions of pressure on free expression in our digitally mediated, social media driven information landscape. We are firmly of the view that a consultative approach involving the faculty in dealing with such pressures, is the only way forward.”

It may be mentioned that earlier several departments including, Sociology and Anthropology, Economics and Political Science of the Ashoka University have expressed solidarity with Das. — IANS

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