Don’t sacrifice intellectual freedom on altar of party politics: Tharoor

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 12 (PTI):
Intellectual freedom should not be sacrificed at the altar of party politics and under the “foolish” belief that ignorance of someone’s ideas will help defeat them, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said on Sunday.
His statement was in apparent support of Kannur University’s decision to include portions of books of RSS leader M S Golwalkar and Hindu Mahasabha leader V D Savarkar in its post graduate course on Governance and Politics.
The varsity’s decision has drawn criticism from various student unions, which have alleged saffronisation of the university, and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who said his government will not glorify the ideas and leaders who had turned their back on the freedom struggle. Tharoor, however, in his Facebook post said, “Intellectual freedom is far too important a value in our society to be sacrificed at the altar of party politics. It is foolish to believe that ignorance of someone’s ideas will help you to defeat them. I have quoted Savarkar and Golwalkar at length in my books, and refuted them.” He said that “some friends” have disapproved of his stand that academic freedom “requires us to read, understand and debate every point of view, including those we disagree with”. “If we don’t read Savarkar and Golwalkar, on what basis will we oppose their ideas? Kannur University also teaches Gandhi and Tagore,” he said in his post. Vijayan, at a press meet, had said that no one should glorify reactionary ideologies and the leaders who uphold such ideas. He had also said a two-member expert committee has already been appointed to look into the matter and necessary steps will be taken by the university based on the panel’s recommendation.
The committee, comprising experts outside the varsity, has been asked to submit its report within five days and further decision on the syllabus would be taken after that, university vice-chancellor Gopinath Ravindran had said. According to the students unions, the University has included portions from Golwalkar’s books including “Bunch of Thoughts” and Savarkar’s “Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?” in the syllabus of the third semester students of MA Governance and Politics.

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