By Sushmita Verma:
Editor’s note: The decision of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to terminate the services of Sanober Keshwar, an Associate Professor (part time), has drawn the ire of professors, students and TISS alumni. According to a Hindustan Times report, her supporters said that “she was simply sent a message saying her services were no longer required, access to her official email id and telephone were abruptly blocked, and electricity supply to her hostel room was cut off.”
When asked about the termination, the TISS Director, Dr. S. Parasuraman, said that Sanober Keshwar’s contract was not renewed because of a “fund crunch” and that she was “irregular”. In response, students, professors, and TISS alumni have demanded an immediate reinstatement and have penned down a letter of endorsement against the unfair and sudden termination of Adv. Sanober Keshwar.
The aforementioned letter, describes Adv. Keshwar as “a faculty loved and respected by many students” and as someone who “participated in many student activities, enriching the discussions without influencing them from a position of power.”
Here is the full text of the letter:
Tata Institute of Social Sciences,
The administration of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, terminated the services of Sanober Keshwaar, an associate professor (Part-time) according to her designation, by sending her reliving letter to her official email id in mid-May. Soon after this the phone unit on her desk was removed, the access to her email on the tiss.edu server blocked in a manner that is derogatory and humiliating. This is not the first instance that something like this has happened, in 2011 Sarita Ganesh and in 2015 Bela Bhatia (both Alumni of the institute) were also terminated similarly.
Adv. Sanober Keshwaar has been one of the most loved faculties since she joined the institution as part-time temporary staff in 2010. She was not only a teacher to her students but also a friend, a counselor and a guide to help students tide over difficult times.
Her classes were full of energy and she brought up discussions about the realilites faced by the poorest of the people she has worked with all her life, to make us students understand the inequalities existing in our society. She engaged with the students at levels they could understand and engage, breaking down difficult concepts with skill. She stayed back on campus longer than required to help students with their assignments, with identifying literature for their research thesis. Sanober participated in many student activities, enriching the discussions without influencing them from a position of power.
Sanober, though attached to the school of social work, taught one course at the Globalisation and Labour program and coordinated another program at the School of Law. She did all of this with the same rigour she put in her courses at the School of Social Work. She juggled multiple responsibilities on campus while caring for her ailing mother who needs constant attention. Sanober too has multiple health issues, over which she has prioritised the campus, as not taking the long breaks, needed to seek medical help, from teaching and from students. Even during the M-ward survey she was one of the more dedicated among the staff who did the surveys herself and made her students engage with the people from the community. She would come back from the survey, collect all the survey sheets from her batch of students, have a discussion and then submit it, the same day, to the secretariat. Despite the logistical issues during the M-ward survey, she pushed her batch to work hard and with passion as it concerned the lives of the toiling people, living in the institution’s neighborhood.
This is how the students of Sanober remember her. It is horrifying to hear that the administration has treated her with such disdain. A faculty member who is extremely passionate and always there for the students is being terminated with no regard for her age and her immense experience.
Therefore, we the undersigned, urge the TISS administration to:
1. Immediately reinstate Sanober to her position of associate professor (Part-time), which she has held the past
2. Provide her with access to her official email (tiss.edu) as well as the telephone on her desk.
3. Institute an external committee to look into the indiscriminate terminations of other faculty members, namely,
This letter has been reproduced exactly as it appeared on Facebook. No edits have been made.
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