Restore the prestige and credibility of the EPW and the Sameeksha Trust

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Open Letter to the Board Members of the Sameeksha Trust

As long-standing well-wishers and members of the intellectual community served by the EPW, we are appalled and dismayed by the recent events leading to the abrupt resignation of the Editor, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

We are distressed that the Board of the Sameeksha Trust has insisted that the Editor retract an article published in the journal, and is preparing to introduce new norms for the Board-Editor relationship and appoint a co-editor.  It is obvious that, taken together, these actions (mentioned by the Editor in interviews to the press and not denied in the statement issued by the Trust) would force any self-respecting editor to resign.  By failing to distinguish between internal issues of procedural propriety in Board-Editor relationship from the much larger question of the EPW’s public reputation for integrity, the Board of the Sameeksha Trust has dealt a strong blow to the journal’s credibility.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s professional reputation has been primarily that of an investigative journalist of several decades standing.  His well-known past exposés have delved into the malpractices of large corporations and the frequent complicity of state institutions in such corrupt practices.  That such journalism could provoke retaliation by those investigated may be expected.  These facts must have been known to the Board of Trustees of the Sameeksha Trust when they appointed Guha Thakurta as Editor just 15 months earlier.  It is one thing to wonder if the Editor may have erred in initiating legal action on behalf of the Trust without first consulting its Board, and quite another to withdraw an already published article from the journal.  If the Board believes the article to be mistaken in its facts, it must issue a public apology and retraction.  If it is only concerned that due deference was not shown to the Board, it must publicly stand by the article.  By forcing the Editor’s resignation without clarifying its stand on the substance of the article, the Board has diminished the institution that it is mandated to nurture.

The fact that a legal notice was sent to the Editor and the publishers (Sameeksha Trust) of EPW, for an ongoing investigation on the tweaking of rules that have benefited the Adani Group, is not surprising. Legal notices have unfortunately become the standard means used to intimidate and suppress investigative journalism. When they translate into court cases that can extend over years, they obviously add to costs and further harassment of honest journalists. However, as long as all the published material can be adequately substantiated and verified, there is little reason to fear an adverse result from the judicial process. But publishers MUST stand behind and back their editors on this if the journals are to maintain their independence and credibility.

India is currently living through a dark period in which there are real concerns about freedom and independence of intellectual expression, both for academics and journalists, with significant corporate takeover of major media houses and increasing instances of overt and covert intimidation of independent thinking and debate. In this context, reports of what appears to be a capitulation by the Board of Trustees of Sameeksha Trust –  removing the “offending” article from the EPW website and trying to impose humiliating terms on the Editor – are alarming. The EPW has a long and distinguished tradition of promoting independent and critical thinking that is vital in a democracy.  We expect the current Trustees to be mindful of our inherited legacy that they hold in trust on behalf of us as scholars, analysts and activists in India and abroad, who have contributed to EPW over long decades.  They need to take immediate steps to restore the prestige and credibility of the journal and the Sameeksha Trust.  This letter is therefore also asking the Trust, which (regardless of its purely legal status) is in the nature of a body accountable to a larger public, to create channels of communication between the Trust and the EPW community so as to strengthen the autonomy and integrity of EPW.

The petition, when initially issued, was signed by the following. Others, who wish to endorse, may do so through this petition on change.org

1. A R Vasavi, Independent Reseacher Bangalore
2. Aabid Firdausi, Kerala University
3. Abdi Seido, Dire Dawa University, Ethiopia
4. Abhijit Banerjee, Professor, MIT
5. Abhijit Sen, Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
6. Abid Firdausi MS, University of Kerala
7. Aditya Nigam, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
8. Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
9. Alicia Puyana Mutis, Professor, Flacso, Mexico City
10. Amar Yumnam, Professor, Manipur University, India.
11. Amita Baviskar, Professor, Institute of Economic Growth
12. Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Emeritus Professor, Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
13. Anamitra Roychowdhury, JNU
14. Anand Chakravarti, Retired Professor, University of Delhi
15. Anandhi S., Professor, MIDS Chennai
16. Andrew Cornford, Geneva Finance Observatory.
17. Anis Chowdhury, Professor, University of Western Sydney
18. Anupam Mitra
19. Arindam Sen, Editor, Liberation, Kolkata
20. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Independent researcher, Bangalore
21. Ashok Chowdhury, All India Union of Forest Working People
22. Ashwini Deshpande, Professor, Delhi School of Economics
23. Avinash Kumar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
24. Avnesh Kumar Gupta, World Forum of Economists
25. Balwinder Singh Tiwana, Punjabi University
26. Bina Agarwal, Professor, University of Manchester
27. Bindu Oberoi, Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University
28. C. P. Chandrasekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
29. Carol Upadhya, NIAS Bangalore
30. Chandra Dutt, Director, COSTFORD, Kerala
31. Collins Mtika, Director - Centre for Investigative Journalism – Malawi
32. Dhruva Narayan, Centre for Social Development
33. Dia Dacosta, University of Alberta
34. Dipa Sinha, B. R. Ambedkar University, Delhi
35. E.A.S Sarma, I.A.S. Retd., Hyderabad
36. Eleuterio Prado, Professor, São Paulo University, Brazil
37. Farah Naqvi, Writer and activist, Delhi.
38. Geeta Kapur, Art scholar, Delhi
39. Gita Chadha, University of Mumbai
40. Gopi Kanta Ghosh, Independent researcher.
41. Hemant Adlakha, Jawaharlal Nehru University
42. Himanshu, Jawaharlal Nehru University
43. Itty Abraham, National University of Singapore
44. J. Devika, Centre for Development Studies, Kerala
45. J. George, (Rtd) Independent Researcher, DELHI.
46. Jai Sen, World Social Forum,
47. Janaki Abraham, Delhi School of Economics
48. Janaki Nair, Jawaharlal Nehru University
49. Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
50. Jeemol Unni, University of Ahmedabad
51. Jesim Pais, Society for Social and Economic Research
52. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Malaysia
53. Joseph M.T., University of Mumbai
54. K. Ramakrishnan, Chennai
55. K. Srivatsan, Anveshi Research Centre Hyderabad
56. Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
57. Kalyan Shankar Ray, Bhubaneswar
58. Kannan Srinivasan, New York
59. Kunibert Raffer, retired Professor, University of Vienna
60. Kushankur Dey, Xavier University Bhubaneswar
61. Kuttappan Vijayachandran, Industrial Research Services
62. Lata Mani, Bangalore
63. Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland and Fondation des Sciences des Hommes Paris
64. Lawrence Shute, Prof Emeritus, California State Polytechnic University
65. Laxmi Murthy, Bengaluru
66. M. Vijayabaskar, Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies
67. M.S. Bhatt, retired Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia
68. M.V. Ramana, Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada
69. Malancha Chakrabarty, Observer Research Foundation
70. Mandeep Kaur, Dyal Singh College.
71. Mandira Sarma, Jawaharlal Nehru University
72. Mani Kumar, Independent researcher.
73. Manoranjan Mohanty, retired Professor, Delhi University
74. Mary E. John, Professor, CWDS, New Delhi
75. Matt Meyer, International Peace Research Association
76. Meyer Brownstone, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
77. Mohammad Konneh,
78. Mritunjoy Mohanty, Professor, IIM, Kolkata
79. Mustafa Ozer, Anadolu University, Turkey
80. N. Krishnaji, retired, Centre for Development Studies
81. N. Mani, Erode College, Kerala
82. Nandini Sundar, Professor, University of Delhi.
83. Navnita Behera, IRIIS
84. Nayanjyoti, Research Scholar, Delhi University
85. Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Professor, Delhi University
86. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
87. Noam Chomsky, Professor, MIT
88. Oishik Sirkar, Jindal Law University, Sonepat
89. Padmini Swaminathan, retired Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad
90. Paris Yeros, Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
91. Partha Chatterjee, Professor, Columbia University
92. Partha Ray, IIM Calcutta
93. Patrick Bond, Professor, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
94. Prabhu Mohapatra, University of Delhi
95. Pradip Kumar Datta, JNU
96. Pranab Bardhan, University of California Berkeley
97. Praveen Jha, Professor, JNU
98. Prem Chowdhry, Historian
99. Pushpendra, Professor Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Patna
100. R. Nagaraj, IGIDR
101. R. Ramakumar, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
102. R. Srivatsan, Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies
103. Radha D’Souza, University of Westminster
104. Radhika Desai, Professor, University College, Manitoba
105. Radhika Singha, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
106. Rajarshi Dasgupta, Journalist, Kolkata
107. Rajender Singh Negi
108. Rajni Palriwala, University of Delhi
109. Rama Melkote, retired Professor, Osmania University
110. Ramchandra Guha, Bengaluru
111. Ranjini Mazumdar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
112. Ravi K. Tripathi, Université Pairs XIII - Sorbonne Paris
113. Ravi Sundaram, CSDS, Delhi
114. Rohit Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru University
115. Rosa Abraham, Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru
116. S. Parasuraman, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
117. S.V. Narayanan, Independent Analyst
118. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Professor Emeritus, JNU
119. Sakuntala Narasimhan, Independent scholar
120. Samuel H Daniel, Independent researcher USA
121. Sanjay Srivastava, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
122. Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Media Development Foundation, Chennai
123. Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi University
124. Seth Sandrowsky, Sacramento, California
125. Shambhu Ghatak, Associate Fellow, Inclusive Media for Change
126. Shipra Nigam, Research Scholar
127. SK Godwin, SK, IIM Kolkata
128. Sudeshna Banerji, Jadavpur University
129. Sudip Chaudhuri, Professor IIM Kolkata
130. Sumit Mazumdar, Institute of Public Health, Kalyani
131. Sumit Sarkar, retired Professor, University of Delhi
132. Sunanda Sen, retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
133. Suneetha Achyuta, Coordinator, Anveshi Research Centre for Women's Studies
134. Sunil Khilnani, Professor, King’s College London
135. Sunil Mani, Director, CDS Trivandrum
136. Surajit C Mukhopadhyay, Seacom Skills University
137. Sushil Khanna, Professor, IIM, Kolkata
138. Susie Tharu, Professor Emerita, English and Foreign Languages University
139. Swati Pillai, Watershed Organisation Trust Pune
140. T. M. Thomas Isaac, Finance Minister, Government of Kerala
141. Tanika Sarkar, retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
142. Tejaswini Niranjana, Professor, Lingnan University, Hongkong
143. Uma Chakravarti, retired historian, Delhi University
144. Uma M Bhrugabanda, EFLU Hyderabad
145. Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda, EFL University
146. V. Geetha, Independent scholar, Chennai.
147. Veena Naregal, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University.
148. Veena Shatrugna, retired, National Institute of Nutrition Hyderabad
149. Venkatesh Athreya, Professor of Economics (Retired), Bharathidasan University
150. Vikas Rawal, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
151. Vipin Negi, University of Delhi
152. Vishal Sarin, LP University
153. Vivan Sundaram, Artist, Delhi
154. Yılmaz Akyüz, Chief Economist, South Centre (Former Director, UNCTAD.)
155. Zoya Hasan, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University

 



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