The decision to question Prof Yogendra Yadav’s political affiliations while being a member of UGC was understandable but the manner in which he was sacked is condemnable.
In a controversy over including the cartoon of Dr Ambedkar in 11th-class textbook, eminent political scientist Prof. Yogendra Yadav resigned from NCERT last year. In the resignation letter which was released to the media, he mentioned that while accepting the supremacy of parliament he was resigning to expresses his dissent.
Prof Yadav was back in the news once again when Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) served him a show cause notice on why she should not be retired from UGC, given his political affiliations. In a strongly worded response, Prof Yadav explained the sequence of events starting from how he had volunteered to resign from all advisory bodies of MHRD before joining Aam Admi Party (AAP) and how he was persuaded by the then Minister Mr. Kapil Sibal to continue. The full text of Prof Yadav’s reply to the show cause notice can be read here.
In my opinion Prof Yadav should have resigned when the government expressed some reservations about his political affiliations. Notwithstanding that, the manner in which MHRD handled this entire episode is shocking to say the least. As Prof Yadav mentioned in the letter, the government invites leading academics to join UGC because they can add value to the education policy framework. But the tone of the show cause notice reads as if the government was doing a great favor by giving an opportunity for the academics to be a part of it. The Ministry while respecting the independence of UGC should have asked its Chairman if Prof Yadav’s involvement in politics is in anyway affecting his work at UGC and then acted upon that recommendation.
Earlier this year Additional Secretary (TE) sent an aggressively worded email (with typos) to a Professor at Indian Statistical Institute while discussing about the new IIT admission criteria. You can read the email chain here. The condescending manner in which the officials at MHRD deals with leading academics, even when the beneficiary is MHRD is really appalling.