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Won't reconsider decision without academic independence: Amartya Sen

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday night ruled out reconsidering his decision not to seek a second term as Chancellor of Nalanda University since that would require a change in the position of the government on the academic independence of Nalanda University.



Kolkata: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday night ruled out reconsidering his decision not to seek a second term as Chancellor of Nalanda University since that would require a change in the position of the government on the academic independence of Nalanda University.

The 81-year-old economist's decision to withdraw his candidature as the university Chair for the second term after complaining about political interference in academic matters has sparked off a controversy.

The union government had not forwarded his name affirming a second term to the Visitor, President Pranab Mukherjee, despite unanimous recommendation of his name by the university's governing body.

Asked whether he would reconsider his decision, Sen told PTI "no. I think there is no reason for me to reconsider. It is not about my tenure, it is about academic freedom....They would have to guarantee academic independence of Nalanda, which they do not seem to want. If they did that, this would of course be a different matter altogether."

He maintained that the government's claim that the minutes of the governing body's meeting had not reached it was "false".

Giving the details of the meeting, he said in the special meeting of the Board on January 14, chaired by Singapore's George Yeo (Sen having recused himself), the decision that was taken was followed by a special minuting meeting affirming the language of the decision, where the minuting formally took place.

This was communicated to the President -the Visitor of Nalanda- on January 15 and confirmed by a further written communication from the Vice Chancellor on January 20 to the Ministry of External Affairs, he added.

"That special meeting on the Chancellorship, chaired by George Yeo, was quite a separate one from the general Board meeting chaired by Sen himself, the provisional minutes of which went out in Feburary.

"The Ministry seems to have failed to understand the distinction between the two formally different meetings - one chaired by Yeo (on the Chancellorship) and another by Sen (on all other matters)," Sen said.

Earlier, Sen told Karan Thapar for 'Nothing But The Truth' programme on Headlines Today that the government seems to have great doubts about autonomy of academic institutions.

Asked if he was worried about minorities under the present government, he said he was "very much worried".

"We have had a very good statement from Prime Minister Modi, which I applaud, about the dangers of women at night, lack of toilets, etc, without -as yet- much action.

"The fact that there has been a very good statement by Modi, which I appreciate very much, on minority rights is excellent - in fact fantastic - but at the same time it is insufficient," he said.

Replying to a query that if he meant that Modi needs to act more decisively following his reassuring talk, he said "indeed that is the case".

From Zee News

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