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Exclusive: Scholarships, Jobs & Higher Studies Affected as JNU Cites ‘Printing Problems’ & Other Bizarre Excuses to Delay PhD Degrees, Certificates

But ABVP leader and former JNUSU secretary Saurabh Sharma receives PhD within a month of his thesis submission.

Shuchi Bharti, a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) submitted her thesis in July 2018. The administration, till today, has not arranged for her viva in spite of her repeated requests. Similarly, six other students of the department who submitted their thesis last year are also waiting for their viva dates. They say that they have “no idea” when they will be awarded their degrees and are unaware of the current status of their thesis as well.

After students submit their thesis, the administration sends it to an external evaluator which usually takes around six months and the viva dates are allocated accordingly.  Several students who have submitted their thesis in 2017 are still waiting to complete their vivas at the prestigious university. They say that the administration gives vague replies and refuses to reveal details related to the status of their thesis, viva and degree.

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“Whenever we go to the examination department..they simply shoo us away. We don’t know where to go, whom to discuss our concerns with, the VC (M. Jagadesh Kumar) isn’t ready to meet us,” Bharti told NewsCentral24x7, adding, “The employability chances have gone for a toss, things aren’t going anywhere. I have spent six years to complete my MPhil and PhD. Till the time the degree isn’t awarded, all the efforts don’t really count, I can’t get a better job,” she explained. Bharti has recently quit from her teaching job at a private college in Noida.

Student activist Umar Khalid recently announced on Twitter the news of his PhD viva completion. He fought a long battle to reach this stage. In July 2018, a high-level inquiry committee at the JNU had refused to accept his thesis citing the sedition charges levelled against him. he had moved the Delhi High Court against the committee’s decision. In August, the court directed the university to unblock the process following which he could submit his doctoral research. Now, Khalid has to wait for the JNU administration to award him the degree. 

In sharp contrast, students in Delhi University don’t have to face any unnecessary delays from the administration’s side for viva dates. “It depends on the supervisor mainly and how well he/she can follow it up. It takes around three months. But sometimes it can get delayed due to some problems and take even a year,” Delhi University research scholar,  Aparna Sharma*, said. 

Another JNU student, Antara Mukherjee*, has applied for Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Fellowship to pursue higher studies in the US. However, her application is likely to be rejected because she has only submitted her mark sheet and not original degree certificate which is one of the main requirements. She told NewsCentral24x7 that she had submitted her MPhil thesis in 2016 and her defence was after 11 months in 2017. ) While she has received the mark sheet, the administration hasn’t given her the original degree certificate yet.

“JNU doesn’t admit students on the basis of provisional certificates. How can they then expect other administrations and universities to accept provisional certificates? If you are applying with provisionals after two years it implies that something is off. I am losing this one year because the university administration failed to do its job,” Mukherjee said.

‘Printing Problems’ that last over a year, Controller of Examination’s office a ‘fiefdom’

When asked what were the reasons stated by the administration for not giving her original certificates, Mukherjee alleged that they make a “baseless excuse” saying certificates are not printed on the campus now. Other students have also said that the university refused to provide certificates citing “printing problems” or “confusion regarding signing authority”.

JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) president N. Sai Balaji has also not received his MPhil degree and mark sheet despite completing his course last year. He said that the administration has blocked him from accessing his documents as he had called the vice-chancellor a”chor”  (thief) and had raised anti-RSS and anti-Modi slogans in the past.

Sai Balaji jnu
President of JNUSU N. Sai Balaji

Balaji said that Hanuman Sharma, the Controller of Examination, has now deployed guards outside his office to just shoo away students who visit him for inquiring about their certificates. “What has happened after the present vice-chancellor has joined, is that he has turned the evaluation office into his fiefdom, so only close associates to RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad)  get their work done while other people are suffering,” Balaji told NewsCentral24x7.

Similarly, JNUSU vice-president Sarika Chaudhary pointed out that the administration has turned hostile and refuses to help the students when they need their certificates for scholarships, jobs and higher study opportunities. “The process takes time. Once you submit your thesis, the university sends it to an external supervisor who reviews it. I think in 2016 the VC had announced that no student would be given the certificate before the convocation. So, even when there is an urgent need and emergency, the students have to wait for the convocation. Unlike earlier, the administration refuses to consider any requests. There are many cases where students are waiting to apply for scholarships and other things,” Chaudhary told NewsCentral24x7.

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Professor Ira Bhaskar, who teaches at the department of Cinema Studies, had an argument with Hanuman Sharma last week. Bhaskar questioned Hanuman Sharma — considered very close to VC M. Jagadesh Kumar — over the delay in issuing a certificate to one of her students. “Dr Sharma didn’t tell me the reason why they are not doing it (issuing certificates); he didn’t tell me that. He prevented me from going to the evaluation room. I told him that as a faculty I have the right not to accept this as the future of our students is here. So, that was the argument I had with him. He was rude to me,” Bhaskar said. Further, she said the confusion regarding the signing authority has surfaced because, after the removal of the previous section officer, no new person has been appointed in his position yet.

Prof Ira Bhaskar
Prof. Ira Bhaskar (Photo: Facebook/Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India)

#NotAllStudents

The administration’s actions appear more suspect because of the fact that ABVP leader and former JUSU secretary Saurabh Sharma received his PhD within a month of his thesis submission, when other students like Bharti have waited for over a year.  Students say that Sharma submitted his thesis in the first week of April and his degree was issued immediately after his viva was completed on April 18. He has studied in the School of Computational And Integrative Sciences (CSIS) at the university.

The JNUSU has issued a statement in this regard slamming the administration for processing Sharma’s case in a steadfast manner and ignoring many other students who are waiting for their viva dates since 2017. “The administration has helped Sharma because a JNU faculty position has been readied and tailored as per his convenience. There is a vacancy in his department which is reserved for OBC and the administration wants to appoint him,” Balaji said.

*Name changed to protect identity.

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