On October 19, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) sent a letter to the vice-chancellor of Ahmedabad University, where historian Ramachandra Guha was to receive a prestigious professorship.
“We said that we want intellectuals in our educational institutes and not anti-nationals, who can also be termed as ‘Urban Naxals’,” Pravin Desai, ABVP’s secretary for Ahmedabad city, told The Indian Express. “We had quoted anti-national content from his (Guha’s) books to the Registrar.”
So what was the “anti-national content from his books” uncovered by the vigilant activists? It turns out, they are from Makers of Modern India (Penguin, 2010) – Guha’s anthology of writings by political leaders who are also the premier political thinkers of modern India.
One of the quotes isn’t Guha’s writing at all, but an excerpt from a speech given by the Dravidian leader E.V. Ramaswami, widely known as Periyar.
If people like Guha are allowed to teach in Gujarat or even India, the ABVP letter says, “the youth power of the country will have no feeling for the country or our world-best culture and will become directionless and reckless by the courses created under the direction of such a directionless person”.
In the interest of “education and the nation”, the ABVP wrote, the university should cancel his appointment. “If such persons co-operate with anti-national activities and activities for the disintegration of India with the help of your institution, Vidyarthi Parishad will lead a radical movement against your institution and you will be solely responsible for it.”
On Thursday, November 1, Guha tweeted he will not be joining AU due to “circumstances beyond his control”.
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.