TN Teachers Union decry circular on prior permission for seminars


The Teachers Union of Tamil Nadu has sought immediate withdrawal of a recent circular issued by the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) that requires various department heads to provide prior information on the seminars and lecture series they plan to conduct.

The move is being opposed by teachers’ union of Madurai Kamaraj University (MSU), Mother Teresa and Alagappa University (MUTA).

MSU Vice-Chancellor Dr Pitchumani had issued a circular on October 28, asking the department heads to provide information on the subjects and the lecture series to be held by them. The circular also called upon the department heads to provide information on the speakers as well as their backgrounds.

The Circular read, “For conducting seminar, conference or workshop, respective departments must take permission in advance. The note/order must have the model invitation, details of the resource person/speaker and other information. This must be adhered to scrupulously.”

This was following the protests from Hindu Munnani and ABVP against a programme titled “Periyar and Islam” organised by the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy in association with the Department of Sociology at MSU on October 27, Wednesday. Hindu Munnani and ABVP activists had tried to barge into the campus to protest against holding such a seminar at MSU.

The Hindu Munnani activists, led by its state secretary K. Kutralanathan, had demanded cancellation of the seminar alleging that some anti-nationals were using the platform of the university to spread their ideologies.

The seminar which was addressed by Dr Samuel Asir Raj of the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy and Riyaz Ahamed, Editor of Puthiya Vidyal magazine had to be wrapped up within an hour of the start amid protests.

Teachers’ union and academics said that the University circular was against the freedom of expression and that even the University Grant Commission (UGC) has given freedom to conduct lecture series in respective subjects.

Head of Department of a college while speaking to IANS said, “This circular must be withdrawn immediately and the state government must direct the University to withdraw it. This robs the university of autonomy and intellectual freedom.”

MUTA general secretary M. Natarajan demanded that the circular be withdrawn immediately and that the University will have to face a series of protests if it is not withdrawn. The teachers union leader said that a university will have diverse views and expecting teachers and academics to toe its intellectual line was totally against the freedom of expression avowed in academic centres and universities.

Dr Pitchumani, however, said that issuing circulars are part of the administrative process and said that getting prior information on subjects that are included in seminars and workshops would help the University take necessary precaution.