‘Lowest point ever’: P Sainath slams TISS for suspending Kerala-based PhD scholar PS Ramadas

Ramadas was suspended by the university for 'not responding to a show-cause notice for attempting to screen the documentary Ram Ke Naam'.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 23, 2024 | 8:00 PMUpdatedApr 23, 2024 | 8:00 PM

PS Ramadas.

Veteran journalist P Sainath on Tuesday, 23 April, slammed the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai over the suspension of 30-year-old Dalit PhD scholar PS Ramadas for two years for “anti-national” activities.

He wrote in a post on X that, in this context, the only “anti-national” was the actions of the TISS authorities.

Ramadas was suspended on 18 April for “not responding to a show-cause notice issued by the university for attempting to screen the documentary Ram Ke Naam without authorisation” and not complying with “repeated verbal and written advisories”.

The university said that the Government of India had “deemed the documentary as propaganda” and he tried to screen the movie on the day of the consecration of the Ayodhya Ram Temple.

Hailing from Wayanad in Kerala, Ramadas belongs to the Dalit community.

Also Read: ‘PM Modi’s remarks against Muslims will have to be raised before SC’: Kerala CM

‘Lowest point ever’

Sainath said that the suspension marked the lowest point that TISS has ever seen.

“Tata Institute of Social Sciences suspension of Dalit scholar PS Ramadas for alleged ‘anti-national’ activity is appalling. This must mark the lowest point TISS has seen in its distinguished history in both leadership and action,” he said.

“To one who has been part of and later followed student activity on Indian university campuses for 50 years, Ramadas signifies the finest trend – that of the conscious, informed, student who always connects to the society around him with sensitivity and empathy,” he added.

He said that the vindictive actions of the management damaged the reputation of the institute.

“The peculiarly vicious and vindictive action of the present TISS authorities damages an otherwise highly respected institution more than it does Ramadas. Their claims of what are ‘anti-national’ activities are a dead giveaway,” Sainath wrote.

He also questioned the authorities, citing a Bombay High Court order.

“For the TISS authorities, urging people to watch Anand Patwardhan’s brilliant and national award-winning film Ram ke naam (shown at prime time on Doordarshan under Bombay High court orders) is an anti-national act! What does that make the Bombay High Court?” he questioned.

Praising Ramadas, he wrote, “Also ‘anti-national’ is organising a memorial lecture in the name of Bhagat Singh – the icon and hero of every generation of Indian students since the 1930s.”

“If anything emerges as anti-national here – it can only be the actions of the TISS authorities that have brought disgrace, disrepute, and the nastiest kind of politics to a campus that once throbbed with vibrant free speech and debate,” he added.

Also Read: Over 17,000 citizens write to ECI demanding action against Modi for ‘hate speech’

The suspension

In its suspension order, the university said that throughout his tenure, Ramadas exhibited a shift in focus towards activities unrelated to his academic pursuits, engaging in events, protests, and other activities influenced by personal political agendas.

It also accused him of non-compliance with the orders by the university.

“I was not a part of any unlawful activity. I was exercising my constitutional rights and demanding education for all. In my opinion, that is one of the most patriotic acts,” Ramadas told The Quint, reacting to the suspension.

He said that the university’s claim that he planned to organise the screening of Ram Ke Naam was a lie adding that he merely put a post on Facebook urging people to watch the same.

Meanwhile, there are allegations that he was suspended for being a part of the Opposition parties’ protest against the National Education Policy, 2020, in front of the Parliament on 12 January.

Ram ke Naam is a 1992 documentary by Anand Patwardhan that explored the Vishva Hindu Parishad campaign to build a temple to Ram at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and the communal violence that it triggered.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)