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  • Devansh Mittal and Jyotsna Sidharth

Interview: TCPD's Scientific Board on Disbanding Row

On 12 September, the Scientific Board of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data (TCPD) announced the dissolution of the Center. They allege that information about major structural changes affecting the TCPD’s leadership and functioning was kept from them by the University’s administration. The Edict reached out to the Scientific Board to get their view in detail, you can find the full interview below. Read The Edict’s recent deep-dive coverage of the issue here to get up to speed with the story.

What did you mean when you wrote Professor Verniers was “forced to leave”?

“To the best of our understanding, he was not put up for tenure or offered an alternative role. When this happens, it is impossible for an academic to stay in an institution. Tenure decisions about academic staff are for the university to make and it is against academic norms for us, or anyone else, to discuss tenure arrangements in public but our concern is for Prof Vernier’s role as co-director of TCPD that he had co-founded with Sudheendra Hangal and run for seven years.”

What specific decisions did the University take about the Centre’s leadership and its situation within the University before which the Scientific Board was not consulted?

“Despite multiple meetings with the previous V-C at our request, news about Dr Verniers’s departure and the future of TCPD was not communicated to the Scientific Board. The new V-C never got in touch with us. The international partner institutions which have contributed to the collection of data or which were part of contractual research projects implying joint activities in terms of data collection and data processing were not informed either. We do not know how these joint ventures will be pursued.”

How did the University respond to your concerns?

“The current V-C replied to the Board when we wrote to him on August 28, asking for information as nobody from Ashoka University had kept the Scientific Board informed of recent and future developments. The V-C simply wrote to say that there were plans to fold TCPD into a larger data centre. There was no information or consultation with the Scientific Board beyond this.”

What are your thoughts regarding the transfer of data management responsibilities to the Centre for Data Science and Analytics at Ashoka University?

“We have no details of this Centre, so it is impossible to comment.”

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