Opposing a proposal to appoint Reliance Industries executive director Nita Ambani as a visiting professor, students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) staged a demonstration at the campus on Tuesday.
A group of over 40 students protested outside the residence of Vice Chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar on the campus against the ‘wrong example’ being set by BHU and submitted a memorandum demanding that the university should not be ‘privatised’. Top officials of the university, including the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, came to the protest site to placate students.
As per media reports, the university’s Social Sciences Faculty — which has three posts for visiting professors — had sent a proposal to Reliance Foundation, asking Nita Ambani to join its Women Study Centre as visiting faculty. In the proposal, the university had asked Ambani to associate with it to improve the living standard of women from the Purvanchal area of Uttar Pradesh.
While the proposal has been sent only to Ambani, authorities confirmed that the other two names considered for the remaining two posts were that of Priti Adani, wife of billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani and Usha Mittal, wife of UK-based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.
Shubham Tiwari, one of the protesting students alleged that the step “smacked of a conspiracy”. “We are setting up a wrong example. Being the wife of a rich person is not an achievement and these people cannot be our icons. If you talk about women empowerment, then invite icons like Arunima Sinha, Bachendri Pal, Mary Kom or Kiran Bedi,” Tiwari told media outlets.
Responding to the reports, the Reliance Industries Limited spokesperson told news agency ANI, "Reports that Nita Ambani will be a visiting lecturer at Banaras Hindu University are fake. She hasn't received an invitation."
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)