ABVP calls him anti-national; Guha won’t join Ahmedabad University

November 3, 2018

Noted historian and biographer Ramchandra Guha announced on Thursday that he will not join Ahmedabad University (AU) as its faculty member due to ‘circumstances beyond his control’.

Guha made the announcement through a tweet. “Due to circumstances beyond my control, I shall not be joining Ahmedabad University. I wish AU well; it has fine faculty and an outstanding Vice Chancellor.And may the spirit of Gandhi one day come alive once more in his native Gujarat,” he tweeted.

On Friday, he tweeted again, commenting on a story on the incident: “Or, more precisely, a biographer of Gandhi cannot teach a course on Gandhi in Gandhi’s own city.”

On October 16, the varsity had announced that Guha will join it as ‘Shrenik Lalbhai Chair’ Professor of Humanities and director of the Gandhi Winter School. On October 19, members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) registered their protest against the decision.

The Indian Express quoted Pravin Desai, ABVP’s secretary for Ahmedabad city: “We made a representation before AU Registrar B M Shah. We said that we want intellectuals in our educational institutes and not anti-nationals, who can also be termed as ‘urban Naxals’. We had quoted anti-national content from his (Guha’s) books to the Registrar. We told him, the person you are calling is a ‘Communist’. If he is invited to Gujarat, there would be a JNU-kind anti-national sentiment.”

In a memorandum addressed to the vice-chancellor demanding cancellation of Guha’s appointment, Guha’s work is described as “critical of India’s Hindu culture”.

“His such writings have encouraged divisive tendencies, alienation in the name of independence of the individual, freeing terrorists in the name of independence of the individual, and separating Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian union, in well known universities like Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Central University, Hyderabad,” the memorandum states.

“The element of a mobilized ABVP posed a particular kind of risk. There was a real concern that he (Guha) could be harmed (on campus),” Express quoted a source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Vice Chancellor Pankaj Chandra, also former IIM-B director, was not available for his comments upon Guha’s announcement on Thursday.

Ahmedabad University is a private, non-profit university that offers under-graduate, graduate and doctoral programmes in areas including engineering, business management, science and the humanities.

Guha has penned a number of books, the latest being “Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948” which have received critical acclaim.

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