A professor at a university in Uttar Pradesh was suspended for a test that asked students about similarities between fascism, nazism, and right-wing Hindutva.
Sharda University, located in Noida in Uttar Pradesh, suspended Waqa Farooq Kuttay, an Assistant Professor, while investigating the matter. The university also issued a show-cause memorandum to Kuttay, asking for an explanation.
On May 6, the university issued an official statement through Twitter announcing Kuttay's suspension. They also announced that they had created a panel to investigate the situation.
— Sharda University (@sharda_uni) May 6, 2022
The university's statement emphasized the possible public outcry that may arise from the issue. "The university regrets that such an incident has taken place that may have the potential for fomenting social discord," the statement said.
"We are committed to the larger mission of civilizational revival that celebrates religion, tradition, and history," that statement added.
Piyush Rai, a journalist based in Uttar Pradesh, tweeted a copy of the test paper. According to Rai, Kuttay is a member of the university's Department of Political Science and was teaching a bachelor's degree in political science.
A teaching staff at poltical science department in Sharda university, Noida was suspended after a question on "similarities between Fascism and Hindu right wing" appeared in the mid term exam. A 3-member team has been constituted by the varsity to probe the matter. pic.twitter.com/0XYYCc8iJj
— Piyush Rai (@Benarasiyaa) May 7, 2022
The test item being investigated asks students if there are any similarities between right-wing Hindutva groups and the fascists and nazis.
The question states: "Do you find any similarities between Fascism/Nazism and Hindu right-wing (Hindutva)?
The test item also asks students to present an argument for their answer.
In a second statement, the university announced that the investigation panel recommended that evaluators ignore the test item provided by Kuttay in his questionnaire. The panel also concluded that the test item is "prima facie objectionable."
— Sharda University (@sharda_uni) May 7, 2022
A source privy to the matter spoke to the Press Trust of India and said Kuttay had no intention "to hurt anybody's sentiments, and it was not his objective to rake up a controversy." "He had expressed an apology over the issue," the source added.
The University Grants Commission (UGC), India's higher education regulatory agency, demanded an explanation from the university. A spokesperson for Sharda University said there were no student complaints.
"The university had taken suo moto cognizance of the matter and formed a three-member committee that had suspended the teacher the next day," the spokesperson explained.
However, UGC's statement to Sharda University contradicted their spokesperson's statement. "It has been noticed that the students objected to the question and filed a complaint with the university," the UGC said.
"Needless to say that asking students such a question is against the spirit and ethos of our country, which is known for inclusivity and homogeneity," the UGC added.