Former chief economic adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian has resigned from Ashoka University, within a few days after columnist and political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigned from the private university. As per Subramanian, Mehta was compelled to leave the university and termed his exit as "ominously disturbing".
The former CEA, who served during the Modi government from 2014 to 2018, said: "Even Ashoka, with private status and backing by private capital can no longer provide a space for academic expression and freedom, is ominously disturbing."
Subramanian joined Ashoka University in July last year as a professor in the department of economics. He was also the founding director of the new Ashoka Center for Economic Policies.
He said he came to Ashoka University with the aim of teaching students, and building a centre for economic policy to build our national capacity for high-quality research, analysis and communication. "With the University's support, especially of key trustees, the Centre has been taking shape-with events, research projects, teams of talented researchers, and resources-beyond what I could have hoped for, especially considering the pandemic-induced constraints," he said in the resignation letter published in The Indian Express said.
His resignation will come into effect from the end of this year. Subramanian stated that Mehta's exit was linked to the university's inability to protect academic freedom and expression. "However, the circumstances involving the "resignation" of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who is not just a dear friend but a truly inspirational national figure, have devastated me. I am acutely aware of the broader context in which Ashoka and its trustees have to operate, and have so far admired the University for having navigated it so well," said Subramanian.
He said someone of "such integrity and eminence", who embodied the vision underlying Ashoka, felt compelled to leave is "troubling". He said it was difficult for him to continue to be a part of Ashoka University as its commitment to fight and sustain Ashoka's vision was now open to question. "So it is with a sense of deep regret and profound sadness that I am writing to submit my resignation from the University which will take effect from the end of this academic year. I wish you and the University, and especially its gifted and motivated students-who are the heart of Ashoka-success in the future," the former CEA said.