Indian universities "under threat", need to foster dissent, freedom of expression: Manmohan Singh

| Updated: Jan 20, 2017 22:21 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], Jan. 20 (ANI): In the wake of the recent unrest being witnessed at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Friday raised concerns at the attempt being made to suppress the freedom of expression and speech in Indian universities and said it is imperative to guard this freedom "zealously". Speaking at the Presidency University, Singh said "I believe every university must give the freedom to pursue knowledge even where the knowledge may be at odds with established intellectual and social traditions. We must guard this freedom zealously." "Regrettably independent thinking and freedom of expression at Indian universities are now under threat. Political interference in university and academic appointment is highly short sighted," he added. Noting that there is a rise in nationalist tendencies which are responding to populism and directing hatred, Singh said universities have a vital role to play as it is in the universities that would help citizens to distinguish fact from fiction and disregard propaganda. "We must make every effort to protect the autonomy of our universities and to foster the right of our students to express ideas that powerful interest may not always agree with. True nationalism is found where students, citizens are encourages to think freely and speak freely and where dissent is encouraged and not suppressed," Singh said. Singh further said there is a greater need for introspection and must think about how one can better one's willingness to engage with dissent and added that it displays a sign of inherent strength. (ANI)