Calicut University circular on academic chair events raises eyebrows

KOZHIKODE: Calicut University issued a new circular stating that its academic chairs must ensure that the content of their programs does not conflict with the policies of central and state governments. The circular raised eyebrows and many said it amounted to restrictions on freedom of expression and, most importantly, against the spirit of open and free academic discussion and debate.
“Academic chairs are meant to function with a degree of autonomy and if there is any criticism at all in seminars and discussions, they should be seen as constructive criticism in the very essence of democracy. Academics and intellectuals also have a responsibility to point out gaps or shortcomings in government policy,” said the head of an academic chair, saying that the imposition of the CU’s dictation will make it difficult to invite speakers to various programs organized by the chairs.
UDF Affiliate Syndicate Member Rasheed Ahmed P said the circular was yet another example of CU curbing dissent and opposition voices.
“The circular amounts to a violation of free speech. How can an academic community be expected to blindly praise and support the policies of those in power? Previously, CU issued an order in June stating that the dissidents filed by syndicate members against a syndicate decision, must be approved by the syndicate meeting if it is to be included in the official minutes, which was totally undemocratic and violated the right to dissent,” he said.
A faculty member said the circular, if implemented, will hinder organizing programs and discussing the key challenges facing India. “Even the policies of the government and central Kerala diverge on many points,” he said.
Another syndicate member said that while there are concerns that the CU’s academic chairs are increasingly being used as fronts by religious and political organizations to perform functions under the official label of the varsity, it is inappropriate to say that by them organized programs do not oppose the policies of central and state governments.
CU has about a dozen academic chairs, including the EMS Chair for Marxist Studies and Research, the Chair for Gandhian Studies and Research, the Chair for Christian Studies and Research, CH Mohammed Koya Chair for Developing Societies, Chair of Maritime History of South India, Chair for Sanathana Dharma Studies and research, chair for Islamic studies and research, Vaikom Muhammed Basheer Chair etc.

Leave a Comment