• Modi Confers Award on Rohith Vemula’s Institutional Killer

    Dontha Prashanth

    January 13, 2017

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 03/01/2017 honoured and awarded Podile Apparao, a plagiarist, substandard scholar and a criminal, accused under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, with the “Millenium Plaque of Honour” at the Indian National Science Congress event held at Tirupathi in the presence of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nara Chandra Babu Naidu and Y.S.Chowdary, who themselves are strong lobbyists for Apparao Podile.

    Rohith Vemula’s socio-politico-institutional murder on January 17, 2016 and the subsequent Dalit-Bahujan Uprising across the country gave birth to many stooges who helped in suppressing the movement. Apparao Podile is one such stooge who is now being rewarded for the services to his masters in BJP. Let’s not forget that this man was chosen out of turn and after overlooking several eminent scholars. Clearly, this was done by the government to suppress Dalit student assertions on campus. It was only after Apparao took charge that things on campus precipitated. This has been a trend of Modi Government: appointing people out of turn and the promotion of stooges, as has also been seen in the out-of-turn appointment of the Army Chief, Chairman of FTII, and so on… The greatest tragedy about the conferring of the scientific award on Apparao is that he is a disgrace to the spirit of scientific temper. He is not only a believer in the unscientific caste system, but is also a proven plagiarist and a substandard scholar. Apparao Podile has been a disgrace to the scientific community.

    What is more, he is also a poor administrator, as a fact finding report by a team of scientists clearly revealed. A fact finding effort endorsed by some of the top scientists in the country, from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (Bengaluru), Harish-Chandra Research Institute (Allahabad), Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (Kolkata), Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientifc Research (Bengaluru), National Centre for Biological Sciences (Bengaluru), Tokyo Institute of Technology, Indian Statistical Institute (Bengaluru), Institute of Mathematical Sciences (Chennai), and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Hyderabad), has recommended the following:

    “It is clear that the University administration failed to discharge its responsibilities in a non-partisan manner, and failed to protect academic freedom on campus. Instead of amicably resolving the dispute between the ASA and the ABVP students, the administration succumbed to pressure from the BJP and the central government and took ill-advised and one-sided decisions that led to prolonged agitations and disquiet among a large section of students. Prof. Appa Rao himself failed to act on Mr. Rohith Vemula’s letter in December 2015, displaying an alarming lack of empathy. Furthermore, the administration failed to prevent the brutal assault by the police on dissenting students on 22 March 2016. We feel that, as the head of the University administration, Prof. Appa Rao should accept responsibility for these failures.

    We wish to emphasize that this issue is not about individuals. Any administrative post in an academic institution is about serving the community.

    In fact, sincere academics are commonly wary of administrative positions, since they are a distraction from academic work. Therefore it makes sense for an academic to continue in an administrative post only to the extent that he or she is able to contribute constructively to the institution. As such, Prof. Appa Rao should carefully consider whether his continued presence is helpful for the University. As far as we can see, Prof. Appa Rao has turned into a polarizing figure, and his mere presence as vice chancellor has led to a constant conict, which has disrupted the academic activities of the University. So we hope that Prof. Appa Rao will heed to his own conscience and decide to step down from his position as vice-chancellor for the greater good of the University.”

    Modi’s words on furthering innovation became hollow and hypocritic after awarding Podile Apparao, the plagiarist, with the “Millenium Plaque of Honour”. Such an award presented to Apparao Podile by the Prime Minister is a tight slap on the face of brilliant minds who wish to further science and progress in the nation.

    The Prime Minister Modi, who boasts of merit, quality, science and digitization, awards a plagiarist Apparao Podile. What will be the future of science in this country? Moreover Narendra Modi’s Government has been excessively promoting forums which lack scientific thinking and rationality, and are big hurdles for progress and innovation. Indian Science Congress in the past too had made unscientific and unverified claims in Mumbai, where Praksh Javadekar, former Union Minster for Environment, had inaugurated a session called “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit” in which a former pilot Anand Bodas claimed that Indian Sages knew how to build planet hopping spacecraft. This received huge criticsm from academics and scientists across the nation.

    PM Bhargava, a noted scientist, on 02/01/2017 remarked on ISC and said, “I must have attended 40 Indian Science Congress meetings since 1948 but treating science as synonymous with superstition shows total bankruptcy of Indian science. It is not the government’s fault alone, but that of scientific community too. They should have refused to participate in the meeting for mixing up superstition with valid proof.”

    Such trends of the BJP government promoting bodies which, in the name of science, promotion of superstition and irrational methods indicate how politics is hindering the growth of science in the country. Narendra Modi is supporting pseudo-science and irrationality not just in religion and society but also in the economy, as shown by the failure of demonetization which has hurt progress and development in the country.

    A body such as National Science Congress presenting “Millenium Plaque of Honour” to Apparao Podile is not surprising, but the conferring of such an award by Narendra Modi is a dangerous signal to the path of scientific thinking, and social justice.

    The struggle against Podile Apparao seeking his removal as Vice-Chancellor and his arrest under Prevention of Atrocities will continue till justice is rendered.

    First published in India Resists. Republished here with minor edits.

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