In all the freedoms we keep talking about on a regular basis, we have not been talking of academic freedom ever. Does it need to be talked about or is it a given? Is there any connection between academic and the other freedoms, both by way of inculcating it and using it responsibly. The misuse and disuse of freedoms we see on a regular basis and people keep defining them at their whims and fancies and as per their convenience. *Ideas can emanate only out of academic freedom. Given this predicament and cross pollination of ideas being the backbone of any democracy, the existence of *academic freedom certainly has a defining impact on the functioning of democracy, in this country as elsewhere.
Amongst the academic institutions but for a few in this country, might be qualitatively, academic freedom does not mean anything. The vast majority of the students and teachers are busy doing their rigmarole academic work and are happy with it. For the student there is some light at the end of the tunnel and for the teacher it is career progression. The limited existential and academic ends are met with. Even otherwise generally thinking has never found a fertile ground, but it was never felt to be denied either. There are few and far between amongst students and teachers; fiery, thoughtful and expressive, who need to write what they feel. They are the ones who are different, they change the world.
Any number of unknown academic trajectories, proven by facts and substantiation or even by the compelling strength for circumstances, need the space that is due, in the academic space of the country. This is what can be defined as academic freedom. When you don’t feel any extraneous control over your thought and expression in your academic pursuit or research or connected publication, on or off the campus, it is functional academic freedom. This is one freedom which is felt by its absence. Otherwise, it is the norm. Even if that being the case, most of us want to be politically correct, correct to the boss’s thoughts, and the management’s thought process. This art is not taught anywhere but its human instinct to make out which side of the bread is buttered.
Top notch academicians, thought leaders, academic thinkers and public intellectuals make their life so valuable for themselves, community and nation by being the north stars of academic freedom and bask in its glory. They give ideas, blueprints and contraindications too. Academic, research institutions and think tanks et al find strength in them and pursue a path of academic plurality. Noam Chomsky can be an excellent example of academic freedom globally. He is a global institution in himself. Academic freedom is the soul of any university, more so of the liberal arts types. Today’s civilization is the byproduct of that academic freedom disseminated through the printing press to the internet. It falls under which fundamental right can be debated, but undoubtedly, it is fundamental to all fundamental rights.
FREEDOM OF MIND IS FREEDOM TO MANKIND