Chennai

Following protests, IIT-M lifts ban on study circle

APSC says it will continue to struggle to realise thevision of B.R. Ambedkar to annihilate caste. File photo: K. Murali Kumar  

The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, on Sunday reinstated unconditionally the recognition to the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, the student body that was suspended on May 22 following an anonymous complaint to the Human Resource Development Ministry.

The de-recognition had led to a controversy, with Opposition parties such as the Congress slamming the Centre for stifling dissent and “silencing” voices critical of it and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The decision to restore recognition followed a marathon seven-hour discussion between the student representatives and IIT-Madras Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi. A joint public statement said the guidelines for student groups were publicised on the institute’s website on April 18, but the study circle meeting, which had critical references to the Ministry’s policies and led to the anonymous complaint, was held on April 14.

“By this, the management has recognised we did not commit any violation,” said Abinav Surya, a study circle member. Akhil Bharathan, another student member, said the group had asked for an unconditional apology from the management for de-recognising it. The group was accused of violating guidelines, particularly not seeking the approval of the Dean before going ahead with its activities. “This is a victory for freedom of expression. We thank all the democratic forces who stood by us during this struggle,” he said adding that the struggle against “hegemonic” forces in the IIT would continue.

The statement said the Board of Students met on Sunday and discussed some of the changes the study circle had proposed to the guidelines. While some of these would be implemented by the office of the Dean of Students, the suggestions would be eventually taken up by student bodies, including the Student Affairs Council. Professor Milind Brahme would henceforth be the faculty advisor for the study circle.

Wish controversy could have been avoided: IIT-M director

The Director of the IIT-Madras Bhaskar Ramamurthi has said that the issue over the de-recognition of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle could have been handled in a non-controversial way.



Mr. Ramamurthi was speaking to The Hindu on Sunday after the IIT-Madras management reinstated the recognition to the study circle after a marathon meeting with student representatives.



Asked whether the joint public statement issued after the meeting meant that the study circle did not commit any mistake, he said while the guidelines were published on the website on April 18, they were put together much earlier and were cleared through due process by the Board of Governors. Also, he said there was some misunderstanding on the faculty adviser’s role.



On why the student body was unilaterally de-recognised by the Dean in the first place, he said this was the process followed at the institution for all issues.



“If a student is caught for malpractice in examinations, we first suspend and then ask for explanation. This has been the process. But looking back, I wish this controversy was averted,” he said.



On the accusation that some student groups, especially those tilting to the Right of the political spectrum, were being provided more advantages at the institution, Mr. Ramamurthi said the very idea behind forming the guidelines was to ensure such accusations did not crop up and there was a level playing field. “Some of the groups mentioned have been in existence for decades. In the last few years, many new groups have come up. As the management, we show absolutely no discrimination as far as our students are concerned,” he reiterated.



The study circle has said on its Twitter page that it would continue to struggle to realise the vision of B.R. Ambedkar to annihilate caste.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 12:13:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/following-protests-iitm-lifts-ban-on-study-circle/article7292038.ece

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