On May 6, 2022, Sharda University suspended Waqas Farooq Kuttay, an assistant professor, for a question he included on a political science exam for undergraduate students.
Kuttay reportedly included the following question on the exam: “Do you find any similarities between Fascism/Nazism and Hindu right wing (Hindutva)? Elaborate with arguments.”
A photo of the exam question was posted to Twitter and went viral. Some students reportedly complained about the question to the university.
In announcing the suspension, the university stated, “While the university has constituted a three-member committee of senior faculty members to look into the possibility of bias in the questions asked from the 1st year BA Political Science (Hons) students, pending this inquiry, the university has suspended the faculty concerned. The university regrets that such an incident has taken place that may have the potential for fomenting social discord.” The university went on to say, “[a]s an institution of higher learning, we are committed to the larger mission of civilisational revival that celebrates the best of our religion, tradition, history, and culture that have shaped not just the idea of India, but all the facets of human knowledge on the world stage.”
The professor’s contract was expected to end on May 31, according to Times of India.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by the suspension of a scholar for their exercise of academic freedom. University authorities should refrain from retaliating against scholars for the responsible exercise of academic freedom and should protect and promote the same. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, politically or ideologically motivated suspensions aimed at restricting or retaliating against such academic activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.