Urging the Centre to reconsider the suspension of CPR’s FCRA registration, top academics said it “struck a blow at intellectual freedom and public reason that are cornerstones of Indian democracy”
Academicians from leading universities in the U.S., U.K. and Europe have expressed shock and dismay at the Indian government’s move to suspend the Centre for Policy Research’s (CPR) registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulatory Act.
“Coming on the heels of the Income Tax survey conducted on CPR last year, this action is clearly aimed at undermining a leading research institution and jeopardising its existence. It also sets a dangerous precedent that will impair the pursuit of research and independent judgement in the country,” they said, in a joint statement released on March 24. Professors from top universities, including Columbia, Yale, Oxford and Princeton among others, signed the statement
The recent government actions against CPR amount to an abrogation of the institutional independence that is crucial to the production and dissemination of knowledge, the academics said.
“In so doing, they also strike a blow at intellectual freedom and public reason that are cornerstones of Indian democracy. We respectfully urge the Indian government to reconsider its decision. We affirm our full support to the President of the Centre for Policy Research and her colleagues,” the statement said.
The academicians outlined the key role that the institution has played. “Established in 1973, CPR is one of India’s oldest and most esteemed policy research institutions. Over the past five decades, it has served as a vital and resolutely non-partisan centre of knowledge and research on key public policy questions and challenges confronting India and the world,” the statement added.
Noting that the scholarship produced by CPR has consistently informed Indian public debates, the academicians said that CPR had worked with successive Central and State governments as well as a range of other institutions across the country. “The governing board of CPR, comprising eminent Indians committed to public service, has held the organization to the highest standards of intellectual rigour and institutional probity,” the statement said.
Precisely because it is an Indian institution steeped in the Indian policy milieu, CPR has been a close and indispensable interlocutor to academics and researchers working on India across the world. Through its rigorous research and active engagement, CPR has earned a reputation for excellence that is second to none among international scholars, the academicians said.
“CPR’s commitment to rigorous academic inquiry has made it the partner of choice for many universities, research institutions and philanthropic foundations outside India,” the statement added.