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Monday, April 16, 2012

Professors under attack in West Bengal

Dr. Partho Sarothi Ray, a molecular biologist of international repute from IISER, Kolkata, is in jail for peaceful protests. The charges include activities on a day when he was provably elsewhere. This is the price of protest in West Bengal today. For more details and updates, please see the blog by Rahul Siddharthan.

Some of the related news items in media:

IT: Kolkata biologist Partho Sarothi Ray's arrest shocks nation's scientists
ToI: Public figures write to PM on arrest of Kolkata scientist

And then you have Dr. Ambikesh Mahapatra, Professor of Chemistry in Jadavpur University, jailed for sharing his cartoons, which apparently show the Honorable Chief Minister in poor light. Thankfully, he could get bail, but the harassment goes on. Here are the links to some the newspaper stories on this.

ToI: Kingdom of cards: Mamata Banerjee reacts to a political cartoon in cartoonish ways
HT: Prof arrested, univ rises in protest against Mamata
Hindu: A bonfire of free speech
IT: Professor held for caricature of Mamata Banerjee on social networking sites
Washington Post: India arrests professor over political cartoon

See the cartoon here.

This comes soon after the West Bengal Government decided that the readers in its 3000 odd libraries can only read a small set of newspapers. It is alleged that only newspapers having a connect with Trinamool Congress (and hence are less likely to criticize the Government) are being allowed. Here are the news articles from Times of India, Hindustan Times, and Zee News. The last article claims that a minister in the government has openly said that only pro-government newspapers will be allowed. This is really dangerous.

Of course, like any other respectable party that comes to the power for the first time in any state, we will be seeing change of curriculum soon. Already there are reports in the media on this. Here are the reports from Hindu, Economic Times, and DNA.

With all this action, it would be difficult for the educational institutions in West Bengal to attract faculty (and students) from outside the state, and this provides an opportunity for the institutions outside West Bengal to attract faculty members from the state.

Finally, an excellent article by Ruchir Joshi in Telegraph. Thanks to my good friend Suhas for forwarding this to me.

People of West Bengal deserve far better than this.


L said...

Will tomorrow's newspaper say Ruchir Joshi is arrested?

Anonymous said...

Well, Professors are also under attack from one other source of power -- the media! I am infuriated enough by that to make it the topic of my first blog post at: