ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In the Name of Ambedkar

The IITM students have triggered an important debate on free speech.

If you want to know how to kill an ant with a sledgehammer, ask the Dean of Students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM). By an unintended sleight of hand, he has successfully elevated a modest student enterprise to generate debate and discussion on political and social issues into a nationwide controversy about freedom of speech. Not just that, he has also ensured that the efforts of this handful of IITM students get replicated at several other institutions around the country.

On 22 May, the Dean of Students of IITM announced that the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) had been “derecognised.” Few outside the institution knew about this group. Yet within days, the APSC literally went “viral,” inadvertently provoking much-needed debate on the rights of students to discuss contemporary political and social issues on their campuses. That the IITM authorities failed to understand the absence of barriers and walls in this age of communication illustrates the time warp in which they seem to operate.

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