9.12.11

Harvard Pottering with Swamy

You are probably applauding Harvard University because it has decided to junk Prof. Subramaniam Swamy’s courses in next year’s summer session for the views he expressed in a piece where he, according to the report:
 …recommended demolishing hundreds of mosques and suggested that only Muslims in India who “acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus” should be allowed to vote.

I think the Janata Party president’s role is different from the man teaching Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business and Economic Development in India and East Asia. His political views cannot and should not interfere in his academic role, and by the same token he ought not to be jusged by his stand in his other role.

If the university is trying to make a point, then it should not permit guest lectures by Bill Clinton, George Bush, Tony Blair and several others for different reasons.

There is the huge question about how much a person’s political views matter in his non-political work. I have often said it is impossible for me to like Naipaul’s writing anymore because I find his politics loathsome. In this case, he is ‘coming home’, so to speak. He is addressing the issues he feels about and I do not agree with, and there will be an opposite reaction from others. In an assignment where the topic is entirely different, I do not see the validity of such protocol.

Harvard is probably looking for an excuse to draw attention to the fissures in Indian, and subcontinental, politics. The West has courses on terrorism. India does not. Pakistan does not. Sri Lanka does not. Bangladesh does not. Nepal does not. That should tell us something.

As regards the good professor, one must always keep the salt shaker handy for Swamy’s stupidity.


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