Tata Institute of Social Sciences suspends PhD student amid controversy over anti-national activities


In a shocking development from Mumbai, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has suspended PhD student Ramadas Prinisivanandan for two years, citing engagement in activities deemed “not in the interest of the nation.” The 30-year-old doctoral candidate in Development Studies is now barred from entering TISS campuses across Mumbai, Tuljapur, Hyderabad, and Guwahati. The decision follows allegations of his involvement in screening controversial films and participating in protests, actions TISS claims misrepresent the institute and tarnish its reputation.

The crux of the controversy centers around a notice dated March 7, 2024, sent to Prinisivanandan. It details his supposed infractions, including the screening of Anand Patwardhan’s contentious documentary ‘Ram ke Naam’ on January 26, which TISS described as a “mark of dishonour and protest” against the Ram Mandir idol consecration in Ayodhya. Further, Prinisivanandan is accused of misusing the TISS name during a protest in Delhi under the banner of the Progressive Student Forum (PSF), suggesting an erroneous affiliation with TISS.

Adding to the list of grievances, TISS’s notice also accuses Prinisivanandan of screening a banned BBC documentary last year and inviting “controversial guest speakers” to the Bhagat Singh Memorial Lecture. The institute’s statement underscores a severe breach of conduct, stating: “Your activities are not in the interest of the nation. Being a public institution, TISS cannot permit or tolerate its students indulging in such activities which are anti-national and bring a bad name to the nation.”

TISS’s disciplinary committee, upon reviewing the case, has recommended a suspension lasting two years, effective immediately. This measure was communicated through a follow-up notice dated April 18. The institute also highlighted Prinisivanandan’s alleged disregard for academic priorities and unauthorized overstaying at the TISS Mumbai hostel despite repeated warnings.

Ramadas Prinisivanandan, originally from Kerala, has voiced his intent to appeal the suspension, claiming a misrepresentation of facts and an infringement on his freedom of speech. He expressed his concerns to the Press Trust of India, indicating a looming legal battle over his right to academic and personal expression within the institute.

The incident at TISS raises significant questions about the balance between national interests and individual freedoms within academic institutions. It underscores the delicate line between maintaining institutional integrity and supporting academic freedom, especially in a democratic society. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for how educational institutions handle similar controversies in the future.

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