Ramachandra Guha’s Decision His Own, Says Ahmedabad University

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Ahmedabad University had announced Ramchandra Guha's appointment on October 16

Ahmedabad:

A day after eminent historian Ramchandra Guha announced that he won't take up a teaching offer at the Ahmedabad University, the ABVP, which was opposing his appointment, claimed victory, even as the varsity asserted that it had no role in Mr Guha's decision and dismissed suggestions that it had acted under pressure from the RSS' student wing.

The Ahmedabad University or AU had announced Mr Guha's appointment on October 16 and soon after, on October 19, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had submitted a memorandum to varsity authorities asking them to reconsider Mr Guha's appointment as his writings were "against Indian culture and traditions".

Mr Guha, who was to join AU as Shrenik Lalbhai Chair Professor of Humanities and director of the Gandhi Winter School, had Thursday tweeted that he shall not be doing so due to "circumstance beyond his control".

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"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," Mr Guha had said on Twitter.

On Friday evening, he tweeted, "As a biographer of Gandhi, I argue with words, not weapons. I am willing to debate and dialogue with anybody, and fear nobody. It is for the good people of Ahmedabad (the Board of AU among them) to make this possible, and feasible."

Speaking on the issue Friday, AU Registrar Bhupendra Shah said the varsity does not act under any pressure and has not done so in this case either.

Mr Shah said, "Students of ABVP had come and given a memorandum to us against his (Guha) appointment as a faculty. AU has not and will not act under any such pressure and neither it has acted in this case, when a few students gave a memorandum."

He added, "The decision was announced by a tweet from Guha. From the AU side, we have not told him anything (to quit). He can only say why he declined after accepting the offer. He has made no communication to us regarding the matter."

While Mr Guha had not given any reason for his decision Thursday, he hinted at something amiss Friday when a person named Sushil Aaron took to Twitter to rue that "it's come to a stage that an accomplished historian of modern India can no longer teach where he wants to in the country".

Replying to Mr Aaron's tweet, Mr Guha said on Twitter, "Or, more precisely, a biographer of Gandhi cannot teach a course on Gandhi in Gandhi's own city."

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

Speaking to PTI Friday, ABVP Ahmedabad unit secretary Pravin Desai said, "We gave a memorandum to the AU listing his writings against Indian culture and traditions. We will say that what we did was in the interest of students."

Desai said the students' outfit believed its representation was "considered" in this regard.

"Five of our members had gone to the AU and given a memorandum on October 19. As the final outcome has come in our favour, we think that the AU might have considered our representation on the issue," he claimed.

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

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