TISS suspends PhD scholar for screening banned BBC documentary | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

TISS suspends PhD scholar for screening banned BBC documentary

Apr 20, 2024 09:23 AM IST

Ramadas, who is also the general secretary of the PSF, has been barred for two years from all campuses, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Tuljapur

Mumbai: The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has suspended and debarred student leader Ramadas Prini Sivanandan citing various incidents, including the screening of a banned BBC documentary on campus, organising controversial events, and participating in protests.

TISS suspends PhD scholar for activism
TISS suspends PhD scholar for activism

Ramadas, who is also the general secretary of the Progressive Student Federation (PSF), has been barred for two years from all TISS campuses, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Tuljapur.

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The notice issued by the administration on April 18 highlighted Ramadas’s involvement in activities deemed as violating the institute’s disciplinary rules. These activities include conducting a Bhagat Singh memorial lecture with contentious guest speakers, staging protests outside the director’s bungalow late at night with loud slogans, and promoting the screening of the documentary Ram Ke Naam via social media platforms.

A committee appointed to find out if Ramadas violated the institute’s code of conduct recommended that he be suspended and debarred. As per the suspension order, TISS has allowed Ramadas to appeal against the decision within 30 days.

Ramadas is currently pursuing a PhD from the School of Development Studies at the institute and is a vocal advocate for social justice.

The suspension has sparked outrage among student groups, with PSF condemning the administration’s actions as an attack on student rights and freedom of speech. “These actions of the administration clearly highlight a trend of active support of the ruling BJP government at the cost of the future of students coming from marginalised backgrounds,” the PSF said in a press statement.

“The administration has been taking rampant actions against any form of student dissent, especially following its takeover by the central government last year and the appointment of new leadership in all high-ranking administrative positions. The crackdown on student voices resisting the policies of the BJP government is very much evident in these actions,” the statement added.

The showcause notice issued to Ramadas on March 16 pointed out his participation as a speaker at the Parliament March organised at Jantar Mantar. The PSF said the march was organised under the banner of the United Students of India, a joint platform of 16 student organisations.

The press statement also pointed out that Ramadas is a meritorious student who had received the National Fellowship for Scheduled Castes from the Indian government’s Ministry of Social Justice for excelling in the UGC NET examination. “Ramadas has unequivocally defended student rights on campus and worked hard to build joint platforms and alliances among all student organisations,” the statement added

Responding to the controversy, a TISS official said that such activities of the students malign the image of the institute and subsequently impact placements too. “The institute therefore acted against Ramadas as per rules since he failed to follow the disciplinary code of conduct.”

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