Fake University, Fake Ph.Ds

2010

The All Manipur College Teachers Association, AMCTA, has now substantiated its charges against three college principals appointed by the government. It furnished the answer to its RTI petition on the matter to the media recently. The charges against two of the principals, though serious, still have an element of subjectivism. The third however is simply atrocious and an affront on the entire society. The first allegations for instance is a charge that the particular academic should not have received 30 point on the Academic Performance Index, API, ranking, as he is deemed to have, for 30 API points can only be awarded to a research work which has resulted in a patented innovation. It is well known patent regime in India is virtually non-existent. Somebody makes a technological or intellectual breakthrough, and the next day thousands would be using them as if it was their own without even acknowledging the person who made the breakthrough, and not be worried about the law at all. Since few care about patents, it probably is easy to get one, and probably as has happened in other fields, such as book publishing, patents too have become a commercialised commodity for academics to purchase and get their academic scores to clear their promotion lines. The worths of the books or the patents against more neutral scales, such the contribution they make to society or the appreciation they receive from peers and markets, have therefore been thrown into the winds. Sure enough, by the economic logic of demand generating supply, there are today vendors catering to the academic`™s need for published books and, it does seem, patents, flooding the market with absolute trash. The second charge against another academic is that the certificate he received from the ex-director of Art & Culture, for his research project on applications of physical methods in studies of ancient iron smelting culture of Manipur, has no memo number or date of issue. The implication is, the certificate is arbitrary, and has not shown any objective criteria for its award.

Both these are bad enough, but there is a subjective element in the allegations. The interrogation is more of the system which has left rooms for manipulation, and not as much of the individuals who used these rooms. In other words, if the system is reformed, the individuals seeking unfair credits will have no means of doing so. Quite interestingly however, the third allegation of AMCTA has proven it otherwise. The academic in question, received his requisite API points for promotion as principal by producing two Ph.Ds, but from a private university which had been banned for academic fraudulence. It had also subsequently been derecognized by the Manipur Government. The said university, Chandra Mohan Jha University, Shillong, in June last year was hauled up for selling more than 4000 Ph.Ds to candidates for anywhere between Rs. 2 to 4 lakhs, and all Ph.Ds from the university were declared invalid. It is unlikely these 4000 and more Ph.Ds were sold to young bright scholars out to research, discover and cover new grounds in their fields of academic specialisations. The buyers probably were aging desperate clueless academics, already in the teaching profession but debarred from further promotions for the lack of a Ph.D degree.
It is shameful that the government should have turned a blind eye to something which it had itself derecognized in the midst of the scandal. But this particular case may just be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Hence the job now is to weed out all holding such certificates from the decaying higher education system in Manipur. The AMCTA, which has so enthusiastically declared its commitment to promotion of quality education in the state can take the initiative in this project. But then, this might boomerang, and the AMCTA may discover its own members benefitting from these fake degrees from the CMJ University, Shillong. The state`™s vocal students unions, with their known prowess of militantly taking up issues related to quality education to the streets, should not be silent on the matter either. But most importantly, the government must have the matter probed independently either by a judicial committee or the CBI. If anybody is found having benefited with service promotions from these fake Ph.D degrees, they must be immediately demoted. If these include monetary benefits fraudulently extracted from the state`™s hard pressed exchequer, they must be made to return the amounts. If there are more befitting penalties under the law, they should be subjected to them. The issue at stake is quality higher education in the state which today is in an advanced stage of decay, and if left untended, would most likely rot beyond salvage.

Leader Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam

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