Keralite Professor Quits Amid Row Over ‘PhD On National Priorities’ Order

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New Delhi: Meena T Pillai, a professor from Kerala has quit the Board of Studies of Central University of Kerala in protest against a circular from the university asking the departments to admit students for PhD only if they have subjects related to “national priorities”.

“All the Heads of the Department are hereby directed to convene the meeting of faculties and to prepare a shelf of projects to be taken for research study pertaining to their subject considering national priorities. The student can opt from the shelf of projects,” reads the circular dated March 13. 

It also states “…discourage research in irrelevant areas. When fellows are being admitted for PhDs, the topic for PhDs should be in accordance to national priorities. Allotting privilege topics to students should be dispensed with.”

The Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi, on Sunday,  took a jab at Education Minister Prakash Javadekar over the circular on research topics in PhD.

The Congress President also shared a report on Facebook about the HRD ministry’s order on PhDs. “Now, self-attested wise minister (Javadekar) of a very wise Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) will tell the intellectuals of the country how they should do their work. It has been rightly said that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’,” he posted in Hindi.

Shashi Tharoor, the Congress parliamentaries from Thiruvananthpuram took to twitter to ask people to join her protest: “Disgraceful HRD instruction that researchers can pursue PhDs only on topics of ‘national interest’ prompts Kerala professor to quit. The rest of us can join her protest by voting the  troglodytes out!” he tweeted. 

The Central University of Kerala comes under the Ministry of Human Resource Development but it’s not clear on whose direction the circular was issued. The circular was signed by the university registrar.

However, after the professor’s resignation, the university issued a clarification saying: “It came to the notice of the Central University of Kerala administration that a circular issued by the University dated 13.03.2019 is highly misinterpreted in some of the media.”

The University said that the usage of “National Priority” in the circular pertains to the topics that would benefit the economic, social and technological advancement of the nation and society.


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