Indian tutor sacked for urging students to vote for educated candidates

Political leaders back Karan Sangwan and criticise the ed-tech company for firing him

Indian students in uniform clothing arrive at a government-run junior school in Udupi, Karnataka state, India. AP
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An Indian tutor was fired by an ed-tech company for urging his students to “vote for educated candidates” in elections, sparking widespread condemnation in the country.

Karan Sangwan was employed by Unacademy, a popular ed-tech platform.

He had posted a video in which he asked his students to vote for an educated person who can “understand things, instead of voting for a person who only knows how to change things or change names”.

He allegedly made the remarks while discussing the government’s proposal to introduce three new bills to replace the country’s criminal justice system based on British colonial-era legislation.

While Mr Sangwan did not name a specific politician, many assumed it was an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party has been on a spree changing British and Mughal-named landmarks to Hindu ones.

As the news of the sacking went viral on social media, Unacademy co-founder Roman Saini on Thursday said Mr Sangwan was fired because he breached the terms of his contract, adding that a “classroom was not a place to share personal views”.

"To do this we have in place a strict code of conduct for all our educators with the intention of ensuring that our learners have access to unbiased knowledge. Our learners are at the centre of everything we do,” Mr Sainia said on X, formerly Twitter.

“The classroom is not a place to share personal opinions and views as they can wrongly influence them. In the current situation, we were forced to part ways with Karan Sangwan as he was in breach of the code of conduct.”

Many political leaders are backing Mr Sangwan and criticised the ed-tech company for being "spineless".

Supriya Shrinate, a Congress representative, said it was sad to see “spineless people run education platforms”, while sharing an image of Gaurav Munjal, the co-founder of the platform with Mr Modi.

"Is it a crime to appeal to educated people to vote? If someone is illiterate, personally I respect him. But people's representatives cannot be illiterate. This is the era of science and technology. Illiterate public representatives can never build the modern India of the 21st century," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

Mr Sangwan has not commented on his sacking yet but has decided to share his views on the controversy on his Youtube channel Legal Pathshala, a platform for legal studies, tomorrow.

"[For] the past few days a video has been going viral due to which I have landed in controversy and, because of this, several students who are preparing for judicial services examinations are facing a lot of consequences. Along with them, I have to also face consequences," Mr Sangwan said in a video.

Updated: August 18, 2023, 8:00 AM