Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fearing the pen

When the academic session at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology began, students were surprised to see a senior faculty missing. Shiv Vishvanathan, who calls himself a ‘nomad’ social scientist, had left the campus to join Jindal School of Government and Public Policy as its executive director. While Vishvanathan, who joined DAIICT in 2004, maintained he left for better opportunities, speculations were rife about his abrupt departure. 
    Many professors on the campus believe Vishvanathan had been under heavy pressure for his independent writing in the media, criticising Narendra Modi and the state government’s role. Though everyone is tight-lipped about the whole issue, a journalist’s recent tweet seems to have blown the lid off the suspense. @diptosh tweeted, “Shiv Viswanathan was told by his superiors that he has to leave Gujarat because Modi doesn’t want him.” 
    A senior DAIICT professor told your diarist, “The environment in the institute is not favourable for people, who have a strong individual identity. Teachers with strong views, specially those that go against the establishment or the state government are suppressed. Shiv’s articles commemorating the 10th anniversary of 2002 riots seemed to be the final nail in the coffin, which gradually led to his ‘forced’ resignation.” He added, “It was due to Modi that higher authorities of Reliance Group forced the DAIICT director to give an ultimatum to Shiv. He was even given the option of shifting base to some foreign country for a few years and also stop writing against Modi. Well, he chose to leave DAIICT and continue writing.” So much for living in a free country!