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Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > India: Is BJP/RSS Strategically ‘Planting’ its People in Academia? A case of II

India: Is BJP/RSS Strategically ‘Planting’ its People in Academia? A case of IIT Bombay

Friday 18 June 2021, by siawi3

Source: https://www.transparencyhighereducation.org/2021/06/08/is-bjp-rss-strategically-planting-its-people-in-academia-a-case-of-iit-bombay/


Is BJP/RSS Strategically ‘Planting’ its People in Academia? A case of IIT Bombay

by admin

June 8, 2021

Allegations of planting ideologically driven favored people, in the academic positions were regularly made by the combined forces of BJP/RSS while it was in opposition. However, after obtaining power the BJP/RSS combine has unscrupulously planted its ‘own’ people with even more brazenness. During previous regimes the academic positions in institutions of excellence, such as, IIT were, generally, not interfered with. Moreover, the favoured ones never unabashedly flaunted their party based affiliations publicly. In the BJP/RSS regime shameless exhibition of partisan affiliation has been observed.

At SJM School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, it has been observed that a Professor openly mentions his association with the ABVP, the student organization of the BJP/RSS. The twitter handle of ABVP Mumbai mentions that Prof. Varadraj Bapat was the President of ABVP Maharashtra in the year 2015; seven years after his appointment at IIT Bombay.

FIGURE 1

Source: tweet from twitter handle of ABVP Mumbai (@ABVPMumbai) dated Oct 23, 2015

Prof.Bapat is a professor of Finance & Accounting area at IIT Bombay. His IIT Bombay web page mentions that he joined IIT Bombay in the year 2008. Prof. Bapat not only teaches at IIT Bombay but he also attends summits organised by the ABVP. It has even been observed that Prof Bapat offers lectures on the ABVP platform on weekdays.

FiGURE 2

Source: tweet from twitter handle of ABVP Jalgaon (@ABVPJALGAON1) dated Dec31, 2015 and post from ABVP Thane Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/abvpthane/posts/2843484632383318) respectively.

Prof. Bapat is an employee of IIT Bombay and is bound by the rules and regulation of IIT Bombay. However, certain photographs indicate otherwise.

FIGURE 3

Source: https://www.facebook.com/varadrajbapat.iit/photos/647183715424967 https://www.facebook.com/varadrajbapat.iit/photos/647180968758575

Prof Bapat mentions in his Facebook profile that he is a volunteer at AVBP.

FIGURE 4

Source: Facebook profile of Prof. Varadraj Bapat (https://www.facebook.com/varadraj.bapat)

His polarized ideology could be very well exemplified from his tweets which are political and targets the opposition party. Prof Bapat tweets are not only political but are also often misleading.

FIGURE 5

Source: From the tweeter handle @varadrajb of Prof. Bapat (https://twitter.com/varadrajb?lang=en)

It appears that Prof. Bapat works for the BJP/RSS at the cost of his academics. The Google Scholar profile of Prof. Bapat indicates a rather bad academic performance. As of now he has total 252 citations, which is very low for a professor of an Institute of National Importance.

FIGURE 6

Source: Google Scholar page of Prof. Bapat

In spite of rather poor academic performance, he has been invited to attend important events where eminent persons are supposed to be invited. One such occasion/event is a convocation function at NIT Manipur.

FIGURE 7

Source: From the tweeter handle @varadrajb of Prof. Bapat. (https://twitter.com/varadrajb?lang=en )

Prof. Bapat has benefited for his association with the BJP/RSS. Not only has he been invited at some important events, he has been appointed by the Minister of the Ministry of Education (Previously Ministry of Human Resource and Development), Government of India as a member of Board of Governors of NIT Manipur and IIT Guwahati. The BoG is the highest executive governing body of the NITs and IITs. Usually, the IIT Council nominee to the Board of Governors (BoG) of an IIT is an academician of repute. An RTI was filed to get the information related to the appointment of Prof. Bapat in BoGs as an IIT Council nominee to the BoG of IIT Guwahati. Information obtained through the RTI reveals that the Chairman of the IIT Council decides of his own or by obtaining additional names of experts. It is not clear who provides the list of experts.

FIGURE 8

Source: An RTI response of Department of Higher Education

What Does Rule Book Mention on Political Affiliation of a Professor at IITMumbai?

The Section 4 of the Conduct Rules of IIT Bombay bars its employees (Professor’s included) from taking part and associating with any political party. It mentions “No employee shall take part in politics or be associated with any party or organization which takes part in political activity, nor shall subscribe in aid or assist in any manner any political movement or activity.”

Thus, it is quite evident that Prof. Bapat has violated Conduct Rules of IIT Bombay.

FIGURE 9

Source: Relevant clause of Conduct Rules for Employees of IIT Bombay

What is the Position of IIT Bombay on the Issue?

To know the position of IIT Bombay, multiple RTIs on the issue were filed. The response of IIT Bombay is attached as ANNEXURE-A. It mentions that “no permission was given by IIT Bombay to Prof Bapat to participate in ABVP Summit”. It also mentions citing Conduct Rules that, “employees of IIT Bombay are not allowed to participate or to be affiliated with any political organization”.

Prof. Bapat has concealed his ABVP association from IIT Bombay’s administration. In the RTI response IIT Mumbai mentions that Prof Bapat is associated with two NGOs. Prof. Bapat is President of Yuva Vikas Society and Treasurer of EnviroVigi. Interestingly, the date punch in the e-mail of Prof. Bapat indicates that he made declaration about his position in the societies after filing of the related RTI (refer ANNEXURE- B).

Furthermore, Prof. Bapat has willfully suppressed information of his association with an organization “Think India.” He is on the advisory board of this organization.

FIGURE10

Source: website of Think India (https://www.thinkindiaorg.in/ )

How has Political Affiliation of Employees Affected IIT Governance?

The IITs have followed the political affiliation rules arbitrarily and in complete violation of the Article 14 of our Constitution. On one hand Prof. Bapat who is a full time Professor at IIT Bombay has been President of ABVP Maharashtra which is not allowed as per the conduct rules of IIT Bombay. On the other hand, there is a case of a PhD scholar Mr Vikrant Singh at IIT Guwahati who has been unduly and unproportionately penalised and punished for being a member of a non-political organization Joint Research Council of India (JRCI) (refer ANNEXURE-C). It is important to mention that Prof. Bapat is a member of the BoG of IIT Guwahati.

The victimization of Mr. Vikrant Singh is continuing at the time this article is written. Mr. Vikrant Singh has been severely victimized since he sat on a hunger strike for certain demands. ABVP has organized several hunger strikes, such as:

FIGURE 11

Source: https://www.edexlive.com/news/2020/nov/03/abvp-activists-go-on-indefinite-hunger-strike-against-kejriwals-anti-student-policies-15591.html

Prof. Bapat was President of ABVP Maharashtra and yet he was considered eligible for the position of BoG member of IIT Guwahati but Mr. Vikrant Singh has been expelled from IIT Guwahati for a semester and as per some sources, the decision of his PhD termination has already been taken on part of IIT G Administration. The scale of differential approach of the administration towards these two entity is unfathomable. It is quite evident that Mr.Vikrant Singh was exercising his fundamental rights and duties without any hidden agenda or vested interest unlike the case of Prof.Bapat who is enjoying impunity despite several violations of the same code of conduct.

This is not a standalone case, there are several other instances and incidences where the role of the apex body and IIT administration is highly questionable. Incidents like these not only shake the core ideology of justice, equity, access participation and rights but discourage a common citizen to believe on the revered and codified laws and rules of the land (which ideally should be equal for all). The case of Prof Bapat of IIT Mumbai indicates that BJP/RSS affiliated persons appointed as faculty are being offered more incentives in complete disregard to the Conduct Rules.

ANNEXURE- A : RTI Reply of IIT Bombay

ANNEXURE – B : RTI Reply of IIT Bombay

ANNEXURE – C : IIT Guwahati’s Notice to Mr Vikrant Singh