Saturday, January 16, 2016

Research journal EPW board decision accepting editor Reddy's resignation termed unfortunate, ungracious

By Our Representative
In an open letter to the board of trustees of India’s premier research journal, “Economic and Political Weekly” (EPW), some of India’s most well-known intellectuals have termed its decision accepting the resignation of EPW editor C Rammanohar Reddy as “unfortunate”,  praising him for “dedication, personal sacrifice” and “an extremely successful Editor”, and saying that he has had to part  “in an unhappy and ungracious ways”.
As many as 101 signatories as “members of the EPW community” – including Montek Singh Ahluwahlia, Former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission; Ramachandra Guha, historian and writer; Irfan Habib, historian; Christophe Jaffrelot, Director, CERI, Universite Sciences Po, Paris; N Ram, Chairman, The Hindu group of newspapers; and Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj Abhiyan – insisted that the board should reverse its decision.
Top social scientist Jean Dréze, a close associate of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, said, "Apropos today’s letter to the board of the Sameeksha Trust, signed by 101 eminent scholars, this is to clarify that I share their concerns and resigned from the board on this issue some time ago, with effect from March 31, 2016."
The letter says, “We wish to express our concern at what we have heard of the unusual circumstances in which the incumbent editor ... has chosen to formally announce that he is resigning from his position as editor and severing all links with the institution.”
“Reddy”, says the letter, “did an exceptional job of re-energizing and contemporizing EPW at a time when many felt it was showing its age and at risk of losing its edge”, adding, “It would indeed be profoundly unfortunate if such dedication, personal sacrifice, and unstinting effort from an extremely successful Editor were to end in an unhappy and ungracious parting of the ways between him and the EPW board of trustees.”
“We understand that the Board had questioned the appropriateness of his efforts to produce a set of volumes and a documentary to commemorate the completion in 2016 of fifty years of the journal’s existence, even though he had organised the required funding from outside”, the letter says.
“In addition”, the letter says, “he had been excluded from any role in the future governance of the journal and also kept out of the formal process of finding a successor, even though he clearly is the person most thoroughly involved with and informed about the editorial and financial conditions and requirements of the journal, and therefore conscious of its future needs.”
Asking the board to “reconsider its decisions in this regard, so that all of us feel secure about the future of the journal and can participate with full enthusiasm in the celebrations to mark the fifty years of EPW’s existence”, the letter proposes that Reddy be asked “to take up and continue the activities he had planned to celebrate this anniversary.”
“We also strongly urge that he be included and given a role in the process of selecting the new Editor, and that such a selection be done in an open and transparent manner with all Trustees invited to be part of that process”, it says, adding, “It would be ideal if Reddy is persuaded to take on a role in the transition to a new editorial regime and in the future governance of the EPW, preferably as a Trustee.”

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