An Appeal to Reconsider Shivaji K Panikkar’s Retirement Dues

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Prof. Shivaji K Panikkar has endured much loses and agony including suspension from his job for no fault of his own. The latest one is the decision by M.S.University of Baroda to “withhold permanently” all his pending dues and retirement benefits after an eleven year old departmental inquiry. This is an appeal to all people who believe and work for justice to sign the petition so that the University may reconsider its decision to withhold Prof. Panikkar’s retirement benefits.

As a student or as colleagues of Prof. Panikkar, many would recall how he was one of the most committed, hardworking and dedicated teachers at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU. As the Head, Department of Art history and Aesthetics, he organized numerous national and international seminars and publications, often on cutting edge themes. He helped build the Faculty of Fine Arts as an institution, which nurtured talents and created a space for critical thinking and innovation – a touch stone for any higher educational institutions. It is sad to see how an eminent scholar and educationist like him are punished for no fault of his own.

It all started on 9th May 2007 during the in-house display of the students’ artworks as part of the final year examination evaluations. At that time, Prof. Panikkar was the in-charge Dean of the institution. A student named Chandramohan S’s artworks is said to have offended some onlookers and the right wing political groups used the opportunity to communalize and politicize the issue. Prof. Panikkar merely was performing his duty of protecting the institution from the onslaught of the hooligans. Instead of supporting him, the University suspended him and from 2007 to 2011, his regular salary was denied and he was kept away from all the academic works. This forced him to quit his job in 2011. A departmental inquiry was set up in 2008 and Prof. Panikkar fully cooperated during all the hearings and the committee submitted its report in August 2018. To our utter dismay, recently the M.S. University has decided to withhold “all financial dues or retirement benefits permanently” to Prof. Panikkar.

Those of us who have followed the case during the past 12 years can only say with utter disbelief how an eminent institution like M.S. University can be unjust and inhuman to its own stalwarts who have toiled for decades, and herewith we make an appeal to the authorities of the M.S. University of Baroda to reconsider the decision and settle the matter amicably that do not harm the future prospects of Prof. Panikkar.