Limit on Academic Freedom: A critique of Prof Yogendra K. Alagh

Recently, I came across a though provoking article by Prof. Yogendra K. Alagh on Moral policing in India

The article is nicely written where he explains his position on Baroda art faculty incidence. Anyone who is unaware of this issue can look at for example this article

Although, I broadly agree with the view of author. I have few important disagreement and further comments on this issue.

First of all, I am not sure whether Prof. Alagh wanted to raise issue of academic freedom or freedom of  speech in this article. At least to me, these are two distinct issues.

On issue of Academic freedom, I agree more with Prof. Stanlay Fish rather than Prof. Alagh.

According to Prof. Alagh

“academic freedom means allowing for  all kind of  unacceptable behaviors
and talk.”

This view is not really proper as they might lead to chaos and divert proper function of universities.  The job of university is to educate people, not propagate  any ideology.

Prof. Alagh Says

“They challenged orthodoxy in a most unacceptable manner when they
were students and yet, in some sense, they set the debate.”

At this point, I would like to take and example from blog of  Prof.  Stanlay Fish (
Suppose an instructor in English history   seeks to interest students
by suggesting parallels between King George III’s conduct of the
Revolutionary War and Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq. Is this
behavior allowed under grab of academic freedom?
I completely agree with him when he says
“But we only have to imagine the class discussion generated by this
parallel to see what is in fact wrong with introducing it. Bush,
rather than King George, would immediately become the primary
reference point of the parallel, and the effort to understand the
monarch’s conduct of his war would become subsidiary to the effort to
find fault with Bush’s conduct of his war. Indeed, that would be
immediately seen by the students as the whole point of the exercise.
Why else introduce a contemporary political figure known to be
anathema to most academics if you were not inviting students to pile
it on, especially in the context of the knowledge that this particular
king was out of his mind?

Sure, getting students to be interested in the past is a good thing,
but there are plenty of ways to do that without taking the risk (no
doubt being courted) that intellectual inquiry will give way to
partisan venting.”

Thus, I would say that academic freedom does not mean carte
blanche to do anything one wish.

However, if the issue is freedom of speech, I agree with   Prof. Alagh. I agree that what govt. did in this case was wrong.  On the other hand, I feel sad that why liberals like prof. Alagh never fail to raise

freedom of speech issues when traditional hindus feel hurt and react
badly but  go completely silent when it is about Islam or
Why no liberal ever make any noise about banning of Satanic
versus in  India?   Why no noise about denial of visa to Taslima
Nasreen? Why no noise about bans on Da vinci code by 7 Indian states?

If the freedom of speech is issue, should not it be provided across
the board?

My main complain is that by such partial behaviors liberal press is
alienating lot of young guys like me.  Freedom should be absolute and
all part of society whether it is hindu, muslim…. should learn to
disagree respectfully.


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