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HomeIndiaPratap Bhanu Mehta resigns as vice-chancellor of Ashoka University

Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigns as vice-chancellor of Ashoka University

Mehta, who said he was left with little time for writing & other academic interests as V-C, was recently called an unrelenting critic of Modi govt in an IB note.

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New Delhi: Pratap Bhanu Mehta, one of India’s foremost political analysts, resigned Saturday as the vice-chancellor of Ashoka University, a private, prestigious liberal arts universities, citing that he needed “to return to more full-time academic life”.

Stating that his decision to step down “was not an easy one”, Mehta said that his role as the vice-chancellor left him “without enough space for my writing and other academic interests”.

Ashoka University is believed to have recently come under pressure from the Narendra Modi government, with an Intelligence Bureau Note in January this year, describing Mehta as an unrelenting critic of the ruling dispensation.

Here is the full text of the letter that Mehta put out:

I write to announce that I will be stepping down as Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University, effective August 1st, 2019. The Chancellor has kindly accepted my resignation. Being Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka has been an extraordinary privilege. But after much deliberation, I decided that I need to return to more full-time academic life. I will continue to be associated with Ashoka University. I will continue to teach, learn, write and enjoy the intellectual richness of this wonderful university, and help it in any way I can.

The decision to step down was not an easy one. Ashoka has been an extraordinary success story and any Vice-Chancellor would be thrilled to bask in its glory. Its commitment to academic values, the integrity of its processes, and the extraordinary talent it has assembled make it a truly special university. I was lucky enough to have the full support of the university in all my endeavors, including my writing. But I had increasingly begun to feel the tension between my vocation as an academic and my obligations as an administrator. The practical challenges and responsibilities that come with running a university left me without enough space for my writing and other academic interests. I had lots of freedom but little time. It was time to give academic life one more shot before my synapses irrevocably hardened. I wanted to carve out a space to engage with the practical and theoretical challenges of our time, and return to various unfinished projects. The contemporary world has unsettled so many of our political and philosophical assumptions, and I increasingly felt the need to reorient myself academically. Hence, the decision to step down.

This decision is a personal one. But it was made easier by one fact. Ashoka’s institutional depth, values, and the talent it commands made me confident that my stepping down will not be disruptive to Ashoka. If anything it will rise to greater heights. It will continue to be committed to its values: academic freedom, innovation, and excellence. That is why I am choosing to continue to be associated with the university, to enjoy the sweet freedoms of academic life. I am sure the transition plans of the university will cause you as little inconvenience as possible. The timing of my stepping down as VC may occasion speculation. But I thought it would be best to leave before the new academic year began, rather than cause disruption during the year.

I want to thank each one of you for your support. I shall not name individuals, because I owe too may debts. The Founders and Trustees have set new benchmarks of integrity and revolutionized our sense of possibility in Higher Education. The Faculty has redefined the meaning of academic excellence. The students – the lifeblood of the institution – daily give us the gift of hope and wonder. The administration and staff create solid foundations on which academic life can so lightly dance. And the Chancellor has been a wonderful mentor in more ways than one. I am deeply grateful to all of them – and the wider Ashoka community – for their help and support. I can now relish the thought of enjoying the riches they have to offer even more.

I will miss the thrill of helping build one of the finest institutions India has ever seen. I know it a great honor being Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka. But at this point in my life, I could not resist the temptation of Emerson’s advice: “People disparage the knowing and intellectual life and urge doing. I am content with knowing, if only I could know.” I thought I might at least try.


Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Also read: Ashoka University removes economist Mihir Shah as visiting faculty, students up in arms


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  1. Absolutely correct. Our ‘intellectuals’ are as away from the ground realities as science teaching from the arena of new technology. Moreover, selective outrage and selective quotes suit only a section with pre-mindset and refusing to listen to other point of views.

  2. I am not a Modi fan either…but haven’t seen such a consistently biased academic like Mr. Mehta! Even without reading his articles you kind of know the conclusion.

  3. Was a biased and lowminded. Totally unfit for the position. Damaged the institution. Good he’s quit. Not a moment too soon.

  4. Good riddance.
    Hope he also shuts up his otherwise non-stop jabbering mouth for good.

  5. विचारों से तमाम मुद्दों पर असहमत होते हुए भी मेहता जी को पढ़ना और सुनना जरूरी है। वह कहीं भी रहें उनको उनके पाठक या श्रोता अवश्य सुनें। मोदीजी को भी उनको पढ़ना और सुनना चाहिए।

  6. By the way why Ashoka University is famous ? How many Nobel laureate are alumni of this University ?

  7. The political atmosphere has changed but it has brought lot of pressure on such academic persons to follow thew party in power and thus loose your own thinking and follow the instructions.
    We will find such pressure on many as party in power wish to rewrite and dictate new history.
    When a nation has ministers who talk of being not part of humanity as rest of the human species but children of Rishi and Muni etc. Has he any such proof or just being in power can utter any such words in the Parliament. Where is commonsense and any educational background or since Darwin is a white man,he must be wrong.
    Are we going to spend next few years with this elephant of religion in the room as in the past 5 years or see any developments?

  8. Bhanu Pratap Mehta, like many of our academics was an interpreter. Interpreters don’t do original work but spend their time interpreting events or research work done by others. The danger with this approach is that over time they become ideologues constantly pushing a single perspective. There are no colleagues or research data that force them to continually question their thesis. In Mr Mehta’s case, he became so convinced of his rightness that he was writing political columns that were biased and sometimes just bogus. Since he is obviously a smart person, we should hope that he finds something that forces him to question his beliefs and ideas.

    • Gopalji, very well written. People like Bhanu Pratap and Romila Thapar have done very little original work, only as you say interpretations. Check the bibliography of any of Romila Thapar’s books, there is no reference to any original Sanskrit texts etc, only what mostly foreigners have written/interpreted about our ancient books! How can this be original work? But we can’t question anything what she has published and if you do so one is then then said to have a saffron agenda.

      The foremost quality of an academic is that he or she should be open and seeking the truth about whatever subject they study and explore. Even if it means challenging what they have been taught or believe to be true. Unfortunately most leftist historians do not meet this mark and interpret facts based on the ideology they believe in

    • Absolutely correct. Our ‘intellectuals’ are as away from the ground realities as science teaching from the arena of new technology. Moreover, selective outrage and selective quotes suit only a section with pre-mindset and refusing to listen to other point of views.

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