CSDS: A Citadel of “Academic Freedom” being Unmasked by Madhu Kishwar
Madhu Purnima Kishwar, the senior most professor at the Delhi based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), has sent a legal notice to the Director CSDS making serious allegations of gross and systematic discrimination against her.
She alleges that the proverbial last straw has been the arbitrary and vindictive action of denying her institutional affiliation for availing the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi National Professorship awarded to her by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) - the MHRD created organization that provides core funding to CSDS.
Kishwar is not only a renowned social scientist but also a leading public intellectual and pioneer of human rights, women’s rights activism in India through the organization and journal Manushi, she founded in 1978. Therefore, subjecting her to brazen discrimination defies comprehension.
Ironically prominent members of CSDS faculty have been been in the forefront of the demonisation campaign against the Modi government alleging that it poses a mortal threat to academic freedom in India. They have published countless political tracts accusing the BJP in general and Prime Minister Modi in particular of promoting “intolerance” and “fascism”in the country.
Kishwar’s declaration of intent to fight a legal battle and write a series of articles exposing the lawless manner in which CSDS has been functioning in the name of “academic freedom”, is being reproduced below.
In response to historian Sanjay Subramaniam’s charge in The Sunday Times (20 December 2015) that the coming of BJP government had endangered academic freedom in India because of growing atmosphere of “intolerance” being engineered by the NDA government, I had sent a rejoinder to TOI on 22nd December saying that the leftists were crying wolf since they still retained Stalinist type control over most academic institutions and that it was not the Left but those who dissented with the Left who remained endangered and marginalized.
Giving my own example, I wrote “I was invited to join the CSDS when it was not a Left citadel. In today’s CSDS, I wouldn’t even get a peon’s job!” (My rejoinder was published in The Sunday Times on 3rd January 2016).
I had no idea that the ruling coterie at CSDS would want to prove me right so soon, so brazenly and with such vengeance.
I was invited to join the CSDS in 1991 when the founding fathers of CSDS were still at the helm of affairs. They considered me a valuable addition to CSDS on account of my role as editor of Manushi and my own research, writing and active interventions which were nationally and internationally celebrated as having pioneered new thinking and socially rooted approach to women’s and human rights issues. In those days, CSDS was a genuine citadel of liberalism and therefore much hated and defamed by the Left. Therefore, voices like mine were welcomed, not throttled.
However, as the old guard began to retire and new coteries assumed the reigns of power from 2002 onwards, I began to be subjected to systematic discrimination and marginalization on account of my refusal to fall in line with the ideological dictates of the new leftist/ socialist power cliques at CSDS.
All these years, I chose to ignore brazen instances of discrimination because of my belief that those who are involved in social causes should avoid, as far as possible, to make a public issue of their own grievances. Presenting oneself as a victim to the world erodes your self-esteem. Therefore, I chose to ignore repeated instances of discrimination and instead focused on my own work while quietly accepting a marginal existence for myself in the power structure at CSDS.
But what I am facing by way of humiliation and discrimination at CSDS on the verge of my retirement on 30th April 2016 is so gross and blatant, that I cannot help but make the issue public.
Therefore, on my last working day as CSDS faculty my lawyer sent the following legal notice to the Director of CSDS, which is being reproduced verbatim:
Madhu Kishwar continues:
As mentioned at the outset, the denial of affiliation to me is not a solitary instance of discrimination. I have been the target of such unjust acts for the last 14 years on account of my resistance to blindly follow the ideological dictates of the Left “sickular” Coterie at CSDS.
This is the start of a series of articles through which I will be providing glimpses of the lawless, arbitrary and unaccountable manner in which CSDS has been functioning despite being a public funded institution.
It will also provide insights into the manner in which leftists have perfected the art of acquiring unquestioned control over educational institutions in the domain of social sciences (especially history, sociology and politics) so that they can treat these institutions as personal fiefdoms and crush/exterminate all dissent.
Control over liberal arts and social science departments and institutions has been vital for Leftists because through them they establish ideological supremacy, the power to decide the content of textbooks for schools and colleges and dominate public discourse.
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