The much-awaited lecture by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on Thursday was disrupted by a group of students protesting alleged discrimination in the campus.
After Prof. Sen was invested with the ‘honoris causa’, he was to deliver the first Hyderabad Lecture on Are Coffee Houses Important to Education. The group however, did not permit the renowned economist to speak, protesting the recent suicide by a student in the campus.
Holding placards and sporting black ribbons, they demanded that Prof. Sen speak about Dalit issues instead.
“We want Prof. Sen to talk about caste discrimination and not about coffee houses,” they shouted.
Chaos prevailed in the auditorium for some time as the shouting continued. University officials and security personnel sought to calm down the student group, which also targeted the University faculty alleging discrimination in the name of caste.
UoH Vice-Chancellor Ramakrishna Ramaswamy and other members of the faculty also tried reasoning with the agitating group.
“Even I had agitated a lot but my advice to you is to make your point and [to] not disrupt when others are talking,” Prof. Sen told the protestors.
He said he was not aware of the issues in the campus that the protestors had raised and that he had come here with the topic given to him. He later addressed the gathering that comprised students, members of the scientific community, social activists and academicians from the city.
“Public discussions are very important and the universities can do something to encourage such discussions,” he remarked and added that one should be prepared to hear those with other views too.