While the management at Mumbai University ousted Professor Neeraj Hatekar soon after his press conference against the state of affairs in the university, they seem to have overlooked the small matter of arranging for someone to take over the portion of the syllabus that had been allotted to him.

Professor Neeraj Hatekar
Prof Hatekar at the lecture outside the Kalina campus gate. Pic/Amit Jadhav

His students, however, decided that no one could quite replace their beloved professor. In a show of solidarity for their suspended teacher, the students sat for two hours on the road, braving the elements and straining their ears against the din of the passing traffic, to listen to the academician’s expository on game theory.

The students sat for two hours on the road, straining their ears against the din of the passing traffic, under the watchful eyes of the police. Pic/Amit Jadhav

 

Hatekar, who is a professor in Econometrics in the Economics Department of Mumbai University, was suspended on January 4 for conducting a press conference where he railed against the mismanagement rife in the university administration, and accused the Vice Chancellor Rajan Welukar of violating several university norms. In a subsequent interview with MiD DAY, he was scathing in his criticism of the university (‘Our VC runs the varsity like a kitchen cabinet’, January 11).

Ever since the suspension, his students have been missing him sorely. Eager to hear him address them again, they requested him to deliver the lecture outside the Kalina campus of the university. Around 40 MA students showed up for the lecture outside the university’s main gate. The class continued from 3 pm to 5 pm, with Hatekar discussing the fundamentals of the game theory, such as the prisoner’s dilemma, dominant strategy, and competitive equilibrium.

Students of the varsity claim that they have been feeling the pinch ever since their professor was shunted, in the absence of the lectures that had been allotted to him. They approached Hatekar, who agreed to hold his lectures in General Economics and Statistics outside the university gates, as he no longer has access to a proper classroom. As news of the lecture spread, a team of 25 policemen sped from the Bandra Kurla Complex police station and stood guard at the site, to swoop in and take charge at the first sign of trouble.

Left in the lurch
At the time of his suspension, Hatekar was teaching the Microeconomics- II module to students in the second semester of their MA in Economics course, and multiple linear regression and its extension to fourth semester students. Microeconomics-II is a compulsory subject, while the other is an elective.

Lectures on these subjects have not been held since January 4, said the students. A total of 118 students were being taught these two modules by Hatekar, and were left in the lurch when the lectures were suddenly suspended. The MA in Economics is a credit-based course and a minimum of 72 credits is required to clear the course. Exams are held once every six weeks.

Speaking to MiD DAY about the experience, Dr Hatekar said, “The students requested me to hold the lectures, and I agreed as I don’t want their academics to be hampered because of my suspension. We have decided to have the lectures outside the MU gate, once a day, according to the convenience of the students. I cannot deliver the lecture in any hall, so we had to sit outside the MU gate.

For the first time, a lecture took place alongside a police van. Around 40 students came to attend my lecture today.” Meanwhile, two students were detained by the BKC police for shouting slogans against the suspension during VC Rajan Welukar’s address during the The Octave festival at the Kalina campus last evening.