In a move seen as a fall-out of the student protests in favour of prohibition in the State, the acting Head, Political Science department, University of Madras, Professor Ramu Manivannan, has been removed from his post a few days ago.
Manivannan is seen by his peers and students as a politically active professor who doesn’t hesitate to voice his strong opinions. Now on leave, he was informed of the decision by his office who received his letter and said that the demotion was a surprise move which had come without any prior intimation or notice. Surprisingly, his successor, Professor Kotteswara Prasad, has already convened a departmental meeting before an official take-over from Manivannan.
“I was asked to take action against students from my department who were part of the protests the day after Pachaiyappas College students were arrested for ransacking a liquor store. Students and their parents were being intimidated for protesting, which is their democratic right. I refused to take action against these students,” said Manivannan when Express asked him for his reaction.
Manivannan feels that he has been targeted by the vice-chancellor Thandavam for continually raising a voice against corruption issues and other mismanagement in the university.
“Recently I raised the issue of water crisis on campus. The refusal to execute their orders on protesting students was the final straw,” he said.
University sources said Prasad had turned down an offer of taking over as HoD, Political Science department three years ago. He had later opted to become the Head of the Rajiv Gandhi Chair in Contemporary Studies, which would not have the same quantum of work as HoD, the sources added.
“Why has he shown a sudden interest to come back in this role now?” wondered an experienced professor of the university, requesting anonymity.
When Express contacted Prasad, he accepted having convened the departmental meeting, but refused to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his new role. He also said he had chosen to work as Head, Rajiv Gandhi Chair in Contemporary Studies as he was into a lot of research and administration work and he was transferred back to continue work as HOD of political science. Former President of Madras University Teachers Association (MUTA) Michael Aruldhas said it was unfair to drop a head of his charge without asking for an explanation or getting his reply.
“Now professor Manivannan’s rights have been cut off as he will not be able to speak at the Senate,” he said.
It was the right of students to protest and no University of Madras professor had faced action for the past 35 years for supporting the right of the students and the university was unnecessarily turning this into a big issue, he added.
When Express tried to contact the university regarding this, a number of calls and text messages to the Vice-Chancellor, R Thandavam went unanswered and the Registrar, David Jawahar replied that he was not in town. (The New Indian Express)