Delhi University and Harvard University
By P Parameswaran
The deafening silence of the Leftist intellectuals on the issue of Harvard University faculty’s decision to effectively remove Dr Subramanian Swami from its teaching roster is in sharp contrast to the thunderous protest voiced by the same group with regards to the Delhi University’s Expert body’s decision to remove certain portions of Prof. Ramanujam’s book 300 Ramayana. Harvard’s decision to keep out Dr Swami had nothing to do with his academic standards or the content of the summer courses on economics which he was teaching for the last few decades. The decision was taken on the basis of thoroughly extraneous issues. What Dr Swami wrote in an Indian daily regarding India’s domestic affairs about which there is world wide concern, is in no way related to the subjects which he teaches at Harvard. He is considered a world famous economist and highly rated by his students in the university. Still the university, which has publicly declared its commitment to freedom of speech has not only flouted their own principles but also attempted to discredit a great academician. They have not even shown the courtesy of asking Dr Swami for an explanation.
The case with Delhi University is totally different. The portion from Ramanujam’s book which they excluded from the curriculum was objectionable to the majority of students and faculty in the university. It directly hurt their deepest sentiments. It was a direct insult to the perceived cultural tradition of India. The decision to exclude was near unanimous. It was taken collectively as directed by honourable Supreme Court. In spite of the moral and legal correctness of the position, the leftist intellectuals raised a hue and cry saying that the author’s freedom of expression and students’ right to knowledge have been endangered. The book is freely circulated in the market for anyone to read. There is no vilification of the author or call for boycotting him, whereas in Harvard, where neither the students nor the faculty is directly affected, has practically boycotted the Professor. In this case freedom of Dr Swami to express his view on a subject which seriously concerns India has been directly attcked. His right to teach is made dependant on his denial to express his views. Is this not a much more serious and genuine case for the intellectuals to protest? Their silence by consensus proves to the hilt that their objection is not at all a matter concerning freedom of speech or right to know. Wherever and whenever Hinduism or Hindu culture is deliberately insulted these intellectuals come out in formidable numbers to support and encourage the same in the name of freedom of expression but when the wounded Hindu raises even his little finger he is subjected to media trial and condemned as communalist, chauvinistic and what not. Then the phrase used is not freedom of speech but instead it is labeled as ‘Hate speech’. It depends on the convenience of the intellectuals whether the expression is to be condemned as ‘Hate speech’ or to be protected under ‘Freedom of expression’.
If this is not intellectual hypocrisy and double standards, what else it is? What is more revealing is the fact that the lobby who canvassed for Dr Swami’s exclusion was also the same lobby which aggressively campaigned for the inclusion of objectionable portions of Ramanujam’s book. It will not be far from truth to say that an anti-Hindu lobby is currently active in the global academia.