Mumbai News: Amid Lecture Cancellation Row On Israel-Palestine Conflict, IIT-B Calls Off Another Talk

Mumbai News: Amid Lecture Cancellation Row On Israel-Palestine Conflict, IIT-B Calls Off Another Talk

Move aims to avoid mess as institute has no control on someone's tongue, says official.

Musab QaziUpdated: Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 10:51 AM IST
article-image
IIT Bombay

Mumbai: After drawing ire for cancelling a lecture on the Israel-Palestine conflict in November last year, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) has now withdrawn its invitation to another guest speaker.

A talk titled 'The Crisis Within: On Knowledge and Education in India' by Ganesh Devy, a renowned writer and cultural activist as well as a Padma Shri awardee, scheduled on Wednesday, was cancelled by the IIT-B on Monday. While no reason was provided for the decision except for “unforeseen circumstances”, an institute official said that it was done to avoid any “mess” that could be caused by the speech.

Israel-Gaza conflict lecture may have had impact

The cancellation comes months after the institute saw a furore over two talks on the war in Gaza by warring student groups. First, a classroom lecture by theatre director and actor Sudhanva Deshpande led to a protest by some students and activists, who accused him of praising Palestinian militants and endorsing violence. A complaint was submitted against the actor to the police, while Israel's consul general in Mumbai, Kobbi Shoshani, also lashed out at the remarks. Following the controversy, the institute scrapped another talk on the topic by writer and academician Achin Vanaik. The eleventh-hour cancellation and the complaint against Deshpande prompted criticism from a different set of students, who condemned 'intimidation' and 'loss of academic freedom' on campus.

The official said that the talk was cancelled due to “negative feedback about Devy's past”. Underlining that the institute has control over someone's tongue, the official continued, “If a speaker says something political or disturbing, we won't be able to control it. You never know when even a non-political issue becomes political. Even a simple sentence can trigger something else, as happened (in Deshpande's matter).”

Known for working with the denotified and nomadic tribes and documenting languages of the country, Devy was bestowed with the fourth-highest civilian award in 2014. He has authored and edited around 90 books ranging from literary criticism to philosophy. He has also been vocal on intolerance and killings of intellectuals in the country, returning his Sahitya Akademi Award in October 2015.

No reason cited by IIT-B for cancelling event

The writer said that he wasn't given any reason by IIT-B for cancelling the event. “What controversy can there be on a lecture on education? It wasn't a political lecture; it was about the condition of university education based on a book, which is already in the public space. So I don't imagine something shocking or strange happening there,” he said.

Following the uproar over Israel-Palestine talks, IIT-B introduced sweeping restrictions on holding events, especially those deemed to be 'political' and 'potentially controversial' in nature. According to these guidelines, inviting external speakers and screening documentaries, even for academic purposes, needs to be cleared by the authorities.

RECENT STORIES

FPJ Impact: Maharashtra Govt Finally Agrees To Extend Financial Benefits To Widow Of Major Anuj Sood...

FPJ Impact: Maharashtra Govt Finally Agrees To Extend Financial Benefits To Widow Of Major Anuj Sood...

Mumbai Weather Update: City Braces For Another Day Of Scorching Temperatures; IMD Issues Heatwave...

Mumbai Weather Update: City Braces For Another Day Of Scorching Temperatures; IMD Issues Heatwave...

Mumbai Fire: 4 Elderly Among 14 Injured In Blaze At Malad Building; Visuals Surface

Mumbai Fire: 4 Elderly Among 14 Injured In Blaze At Malad Building; Visuals Surface

Thane Viral Video: Man Dupes ATM Customers Of Huge Amount Under Pretext Of Offering Help, Arrested

Thane Viral Video: Man Dupes ATM Customers Of Huge Amount Under Pretext Of Offering Help, Arrested

Salman Khan House Firing: Security Lapses Raise Concerns

Salman Khan House Firing: Security Lapses Raise Concerns