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Title: Scholars at Risk Expresses Concern Over Professor Denied Entry to India
Publication: SAR Press Release
Author: Scholars at Risk
November 04, 2010
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is concerned over reports that Professor Richard Shapiro, a scholar and professor of anthropology, was recently denied permission to enter India. On November 4, SAR issued a letter urging authorities to inquire into the matter and to explain publicly the circumstances of any restrictions on Professor Shapiro’s travel or, if there are no official restrictions, to expedite approval of any future travel requests.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 240 universities and colleges in 30 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases like Professor Shapiro’s involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, Scholars at Risk investigates hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
Professor Shapiro is Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he is an Associate Professor. SAR understands that on November 1st, Professor Shapiro traveled to India with his wife, Professor Angana Chatterji, whose research focuses on India and South Asia and who was traveling to India in order to further her academic and human rights-related work there. Professor Chatterji, a well-known and frequent visitor to the region, was granted entry to India while her husband, Professor Shapiro, was prevented from entering the country. Reports indicate that no legal basis was given for the decision to deny his entry. SAR understands that Professor Shapiro was in possession of a valid passport and visa. Given that Professor Shapiro’s work focuses neither on South Asia nor India, it appears that his right to travel has been restricted in an attempt to intimidate his wife, Professor Chatterji, and to discourage her from continuing her academic work in India.
Free exchange of ideas is one of the most basic human rights and values of all academic communities. Freedom of travel is one of the most important avenues for furthering such exchange among academic colleagues. Recognizing this, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange.
Public reports that Professor Shapiro was denied without reason permission to enter India to accompany his wife as she pursues academic work there suggests that these rights have not been respected. Moreover, in the absence of any publicly expressed, legitimate grounds for doing so, the apparent restricting of Professor Shapiro’s entry despite his possession of a valid visa and entry stamp raises uncertainty not only about his ability to engage with colleagues in his field in India, but also about the ability of other scholars to plan for and undertake research in India. Such uncertainty infringes academic rights and undermines the quality of exchanges between Indian and foreign scholars, something SAR finds particularly distressing given the important role that India and Indian universities and scholars should play in the development of knowledge, research and scholarship in the 21st century.
Scholars at Risk therefore respectfully urges Indian authorities to investigate the situation and to explain publicly the circumstances of any restrictions on Professor Shapiro’s travel or, if there are no official restrictions, to expedite approval of any future travel requests.