Exchange of Mail – Wolverhampton University

My mail dated 06 October 2021:

“I am aghast that your university is running a programme on Periyar who had made many statements that were akin to what were made by Nazis when Hitler was ruling in Germany. His speeches asking people to murder the Brahmins are freely available on the YouTube and I can provide you the links. Are you discussing this aspect of Periyar? The speakers are all Periyar apologists and they will be silent on this aspect. If you really are for academic freedom, you must add a speaker who will speak about the Nazi racist ideas of Periyar.”

The response dated 13 October 2021:

We thank you for your interest in our conference. We would like to highlight that this is a purely academic conference, involving both young and well-established scholars, which aims to discuss their research on anti-caste thinkers in South Asia. The conference seeks to contribute to established studies on caste and to make valuable additions to emerging new themes in these studies.

My reply dated 13 October 2021:

Really? The Keynote address is this: ‘Denying and defying power – Periyar’s approach to politics’. This has nothing to do with caste. On the other hand,  Periyar’s politics was dripped with hate – hate for Brahmins, hate for India, hate for Gandhi and hate for North-Indians. The speaker is a known Periyar admirer and I don’t think he is going to talk about these aspects. My request is simple. Please engage a speaker who will speak about the Nazi facet of Periyar, in order that a complete picture of the person emerges. Or at least give a promise that the conference will discuss Periyar’s frequent threats to annihilate a minority group – the Brahmins of Tamil Nadu. 

The Response dated 13 October 2021:

The papers in this conference are based on an open call for papers. All scholars have had a fair opportunity to participate. The papers were selected after rigorous review and represent a wide breadth of points of view. The conference will be conducted in the best spirit of protecting academic freedom and respectful dialogue.

My reply dated 14 October 2021:

Thanks for the prompt response. Your reply is unfortunately vague. What I need is just an assurance that Periyar’s repeated calls for the annihilation of Brahmins will also be discussed and criticized in the conference. Otherwise, it is like discussing Hitler without mentioning the persecution of the Jews. 

The University hasn’t yet responded, but in the meantime several persons have written to the University and requested that the real version of Periyar be discussed and not the sanitized one. One advantage of such conferences is that Periyar’s Nazi facet will now be known internationally. Oh, yes, there will be justifications and fob-off attempts, but truth will stick out like a sore thumb.


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