Washington: Upset over his recent article on Islamic terrorism in an Indian newspaper, a group of Harvard students are urging the varsity authorities to sever ties with the Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, who teaches economics at this prestigious University every summer.
"We demand that the Harvard administration repudiate Swamy's remarks and terminate his association with the University," says a petition campaign launched by students of the Harvard University.
The petition posted on the website of the Harvard University and signed by more than 240 students, faculty and post-doctoral fellows, so far, says that they are outraged to learn that Subramanian Swamy, whose recent editorial shows him to be a bigoted promoter of communalism in India, also teaches economics at Harvard University Summer School.
Swamy teaches Economics S-110: 'Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business' and Economics S-1316: 'Economic Development in India and East Asia'.
Donald H Pfister, Dean of the Harvard Summer School has said that the school will examine the issue.
"At this point we have only a basic awareness of the situation and have not been contacted by the organisations involved," Pfister was quoted as saying by 'The Harvard Crimson'.
"Professor Swamy is a long-time member of the Harvard Summer School faculty who previously was a member of the Department of Economics here. We will give this matter our serious attention," Pfister was quoted as saying.
Swamy, however, told the Crimson that the Indian response to his op-ed has been positive.
"I don't think anyone in India, except the left wing, has been upset by my article. There has been wholesale support," he said.
Writing in the wake of the July 13, 2011, bombings in Mumbai, Swamy has exploited this event not only to promote a vision of Indian society based on Hindu supremacy, but to disparage and cast suspicion on the entire Muslim community in India.
"Muslims of India," he states, "are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus," the petition said.
"While free expression and the vigorous contest of ideas are essential in any academic community, so, too, are respect and tolerance for human difference. By advocating measures that would grossly violate freedom of religion and the unqualified right to vote for different religious groups, and by aggressively vilifying an entire religious community, Swamy breaches the most basic standards of respect and tolerance," the petition said.
"More specifically, Swamy's comments cast doubt on his ability to treat a diverse community of students with fairness and respect. The highly insulting and stereotypical nature of his comments suggest that he cannot be trusted to regard Muslims - and no doubt other groups - with anything but a jaundiced eye," it said.
"Swamy's views are deeply offensive; they are also dangerous. The measures he proposes - far out of step with the everyday secularism and tolerance embodied by most Indians - would threaten to tear apart the basic fabric of India's pluralist democracy. And, as Indians know too well, the brand of rhetoric that he employs has fueled violence against religious minorities in the past," the petition said, adding that Swamy can have no place in the Harvard community.
"These are statements you'd expect a demagogue on the extreme right to say, but a professor who comes here, who got his Ph D from Harvard?" Umang Kumar, a student at Harvard Divinity School, was quoted as saying by The Harvard Crimson.
Kumar and Sanjay J Pinto, a Ph D candidate in sociology and social policy, organised the petition with a small group of peers and then emailed it out to an initial group of 80 students, Crimson said.