Indian minister blames ‘subversion’ for campus clashes

Arun Jaitley comments come after Amnesty warns that free speech is under threat in Indian universities

February 27, 2017
Indian Parliament

An Indian government minister has claimed that an “alliance of subversion” is active on campuses and argued that free speech should be subordinate to “the sovereignty of the country”.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley made the comments when responding to questions from students at the London School of Economics’ South Asia Centre, the Times of India reported.

His comments came in the wake of violence at the University of Delhi’s Ramjas College after an invitation to two students from Jawaharlal Nehru University to speak at a seminar on the “culture of protests” was withdrawn by college authorities, a move that was seen as a threat to freedom of expression by critics.

The withdrawal of the invitation came after opposition to the seminar from the ABVP, which is linked to the governing Hindu nationalist BJP party, and sparked clashes on campus between the group and the “Left-affiliated” All India Students Association (AISA), the newspaper said.

Amnesty International India stated: “Academic freedom in universities must be protected. Recent events at Ramjas College in Delhi illustrate the growing threat to freedom of expression on Indian university campuses.”

Asked about the incident, Mr Jaitley said: “I personally believe that free speech in India, and in any society, has to be debated.”

He also said: “I find this absolutely strange that an argument is being raised that I have free speech to advocate that India should be broken into pieces and those who oppose me are hindering that right to free speech.”

Mr Jaitley continued: “Violence is not the method; no group can and should use violence…there is an alliance of subversion which is taking place.

“The separatists and the ultra-Left are speaking the same language in certain university campuses. So they must be willing to allow others with a different opinion to put a counter viewpoint.”

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Post-doctoral Research Associate in Chemistry

University Of Western Australia

PACE Data Support Officer

Macquarie University - Sydney Australia

Associate Lecturer in Nursing

Central Queensland University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Alexander Wedderburn

Former president of the British Psychological Society remembered

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham