Skip to main content

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Dr Deepak Malghan
Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.
According to Poruthiyil, "Though the ostensible reason for the censure order is his environmental activism, an underlying subtext of this censure is his campaign for social diversity among the faculty of the IIMs. Deepak's research exposed that of the 512 faculty members in all IIMs combined; only two belong to the Scheduled Caste category. He has also been campaigning for the desegregation of the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections of the canteens in the IIM-B."
Continues Poruthiyil, "Deepak's relentless campaign, which inevitably led to his ostracism from the majority of the IIM faculty network, has been successful to a degree -- IIM-B has recently started a scholarship program for doctoral candidates belonging to underprivileged castes."
Following Poruthiyil plea, the Human Rights and Business Network of India (HRBN-I) has created a petition in support of Dr Malghan, to be sent to the IIM-B board. HRBN-I, which is a civil society network working on issues related to business and human rights in India, has called Dr Malghan a "recognized scholar".
Pointing out Dr Malghan, who is assistant professor at the IIM-B, received a censure order from IIM-B for sending a mail to the Placement Committee, saying they should “disinvite” Unilever during campus placement. Hindustan Unilever, adds HRBN-I, has been "in the midst of a controversy related to its decision in 2001 to carelessly dump mercury, a hazardous chemical, when closing down a plant located at Kodaikanal."
HRBN-I adds, "This issue is disheartening because it exposes once again the narrowing of spaces for critical research in Indian academia, and more specifically the usurpation of business education by corporate interests." HRBN-I has asked concerned citizens to endorse the petition and send suggestions for further suggestion by emailing at hrbn.india@gmail.com till Friday, January 11, 2019.

Text of the draft petition:

The Human Rights and Business Network is a coalition of academics, civil society activists, journalists, and indigenous groups created to defend the human rights of precarious communities in India. Due to the nature of its work, the HRBN is acutely aware of the rapidly decreasing spaces to discuss and debate development trajectories premised on the denial of human rights of the weaker and voiceless sections in India.
Given the already bleak context, we are alarmed at the recent actions taken by the administration of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) to censure Deepak Malghan, an assistant professor in the institute.
The trigger for IIMB’s actions is ostensibly Dr Malghan’s suggestion in an email that students hold Hindustan Unilever to account for the irreversible damages caused by its factory to the ecology of Kodaikanal and the denial of the rights of communities to a healthy life. For its part, IIM-B justifies these actions as a defense of the interests of its “stakeholders”, that presumably includes Hindustan Unilever.
Even a student would know evoking stakeholder interests cannot ignore the weaker entities affected by an organization’s actions. In a stunning display of partisanship, IIMB has chosen to prioritize the interests of its most privileged stakeholders while reprimanding Dr. Malghan for seeking to defend the interests of the communities that, being a public-funded institution, IIM-B has a duty to defend.
It is expected of corporations to curtail voices of individuals and groups who consistently expose corporate hypocrisies. Tactics for suppressing critiques from within the academia may include threatening administrations with withdrawal of funding of professorial chairs, with exiting from recruitment, or with denial of lucrative management development programs; each of some of these methods may have been deployed in this case.
An administration with moral and intellectual spine would have withstood such pressures and reaffirmed the importance of the free exchange of ideas for research and teaching. Instead, IIM-B’s decision to censure Dr Malghan is a shocking display of submission to corporate bullying.
This meekness is a symptom of an affliction by a malaise known to infect business schools in general – the substitution of “higher aims”, in this case academic freedom and defending the weak, with an eagerness to become “hired hands” groveling in the service of corporate greed.
We request the Board of Governors at IIM-B to reverse the decision to censure Dr Malghan, and thereby reiterate the protections of academic freedom at IIMB. If schools at the forefront of education like IIM-B can be bullied into submission, our entire higher education system risks losing its spine to ever stand up to forces inimical to social justice. The reversal will also be a message of reassurance for the academic community in India.
We affirm our support to Dr Malghan in his efforts to secure environmental justice. We thank Dr Malghan for reminding faculty members and academic leaderships across the country that basic principles of an academic life involve courage in speaking truth to power and a commitment to transforming students into critical citizens and empathetic human beings.

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Why crib? 4.5% is far better than pre-1980 'Hindu rate of growth': Subramanian replies

By Rajiv Shah
Even as sticking to his original argument that India's gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 has been overestimated by 2.5%, renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has said in a fresh paper that his estimate of post-2011-12 growth rate at around 4.5% is surely not "implausibly low", as some of his critics have been arguing following his controversial June paper.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

UP's Sonbhadra killing of 10 tribals highlights 'failure' to implement Forest Rights Act

Counterview Desk On July 17, as many as 10 people, including three women, were killed and 28 injured when a village head and his supporters opened fire on a group of tribal farmers in Ubha village of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. While the firing took place following a clash between over a land ownership dispute, it reportedly highlights failure of officials enforce Forest Rights Acts (FRA) and Survey Settlement in favour of tribals.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.