A Dalit PhD scholar, Ramadas, received a 2-year suspension notice from all TISS campuses after attending a protest march in Delhi, citing them as anti-national activities.

A PhD student has been suspended for two years by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai for engaging in actions that the institution deemed “not in the interest of the nation.” The student’s participation in a protest in Delhi under the PSF-TISS banner is one example of the alleged misconduct. Additionally, Ramadas Prini Sivanandan, 30, pursuing a doctorate in development studies, is not allowed to enter the TISS campuses in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Mumbai, or Tuljapur.

Ramadas had received a notice in March advising him against his activities in the name of the college, following which he received a suspension notice in April. The notice dated March 7 stated that Ramadas misused the institute name by participating in the protest under the banner of PSF-TISS. As per the notice, since PSF is not a recognized student body of the institute, Ramadas using the name created a wrongful impression of the institute, which is funded under the Ministry of Education.

The suspension order refers to a show-cause notice sent to Ramadas on March 7 and states that a committee constituted following the notice submitted its recommendations on April 17. “The Committee recommended your suspension for two years, and your entry shall be debarred across all campuses of TISS,” states the suspension order addressed to Ramadas, adding that the competent authority has accepted the recommendations.

In addition to criticizing Ramadas’ January social media posts, the institute opposed students attending the January 26 screening of the documentary “Raam Ke Naam” because it was “a mark of dishonor and protest against the Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya” in its March 7 show-cause notice. Anand Patwardhan’s documentary “Ram ke Naam” has won a national prize previously.

In an interview with The Week, Ramdas, when questioned about using the institutions for his political activities, gave the following reply:

……Secondly, whether we have “misused” the name of TISS or not. The institute asked me to explain it on March 7. I duly replied. I can confirm that I have attended a Parliament march. I was one of the speakers. There is nothing to hide about that. But what is the capacity in which I attended it? Yes, I am a student of TISS. But that is not the only identity that I am holding. I am a citizen of this country. I do have equal constitutional rights as everyone else in this country. Not only me, but all other students who have joined the march. So, all of them belong to some other university. Everyone has the right to attend there. And this was a programme conducted at a place allotted by the Delhi Police—a law enforcing agency of the land. So, if the Delhi Police has no problem, if they are allotting it time, there is nothing unusual taking place. A peaceful gathering and a public meeting taking place, what is wrong with it?

And whether we have used TISS’s name there or not, or pretended that we are officially representing TISS or not. No, we didn’t represent TISS. In every campus in the country, student organisations use the name of the university along with their name to communicate the constituency in which they are working in. So, when PSF works in TISS, it will be PSF-TISS. Not only PSF, there are seven other organisations also doing the same. So, it should not be a problem when one organisation or one individual within an organisation is using it. One of the organisations which is using TISS’s name along with their name is DSSF, which is an ABVP-affiliated organisation. If they can be use it, there shouldn’t be a problem when PSF uses them.

The allegation is we have “misused” it in the Parliament march. There is an official pamphlet jointly undersigned and released by all organisations in which there is no mention of TISS. It was only PSF.”

The Progressive Student Forum, a left-leaning student body Prini Sivanandan is associated with, said the march referred to by the TISS was related to “anti-student policies in the form of the National Education Policy.”.

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Saanvi Manchanda

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