In the USA, a PhD scholar, researching on pure sciences, has to sweat it out with the committee before which she has to defend her thesis, having to undergo severe challenges spanning more than five years. Publication of papers related to the area of research in reputed journals is part of the requirement before a candidate is proudly allowed to take the ‘walk’ — a bantering and light hearted Americanese for convocation.
It is not only the patent regime that insists on novelty but also the fastidious regime obtaining for making the grade for the coveted doctorate though the US patent regime has come for criticism for granting patents too readily and too easily even for marginal improvements to an existing product or service. Be that as it may.
Against this backdrop, the collective mourning by the Indian media for the sorry plight of some 250 PhD scholars who are among the 23 lac applicants for 368 vacancies for the peon job in the Uttar Pradesh government misses the woods for trees.
Narayanamurthy, one of the founders of the India iconic IT Company Infosys, bemoaned the employability of our engineering graduates. His grievance, shared by many of his peers, was they required a prolonged induction training spanning six months at considerable expenses to the employer before they learnt the ropes and tricks of trade.
PhDs languishing without jobs is only a heightened manifestation of the same festering problem which has been addressed only half-heartedly, if at all, by a few companies like L&T by setting up their own vocational training schools.
The deemed universities that have mushroomed all over the country are more at fault. Academic rigor is sorely absent in the entire process culminating in awarding of PhD degrees. In fact, many of their teaching staff insidiously complete their doctorates on laughably simple issues sans novelty value — thesis on double entry system of accounting to wit. These universities oblige their own staff more because it serves their purpose as well as education regulators in India insist on PhD degree for professors.
The lucky ones soldier on in the universities and academia sans academic rigor but many not able to land teaching jobs, seek employment as generalists like the ones applying for the peon jobs in UP.
The malaise indeed has deep roots in the system of education in the country. Small wonder boys and girls going abroad for higher education are viewed as prized possessions by Indian companies when they return home armed with a foreign PhD degree on an esoteric subject.
The UP government would do well not to indulge the psycho-babbling of the PhD scholars by giving them the peon jobs which while giving them immediate succor would see them sulking in the long run with the resultant shoddy performance coming to haunt the government sooner than later besides affecting the overall morale of the establishment.
The universities that gave them PhD degrees at the drop of the hat must be taken to task by the education regulators so that in future they don’t trivialize with such coveted degrees. Benign guides with winking universities have been the bane of our PhD dispensation. It is not difficult to set right this malady because PhD is not a regular classroom course but the one where the candidate and guide are supposed to think out of the box. The UGC must mandate that the committee before whom a candidate presents his research paper must be drawn from the who's who of the experts on the field, and as far as possible be the ones with whom the candidate cannot curry favor or cozy up to.
It is time our employers, while prescribing the minimum qualifications, also prescribe the maximum qualifications so that the supposedly overqualified do not apply. Meanwhile the PhD scholars who have applied for peon’s position with the UP government must seek solace elsewhere.
To be addressed as ‘Doctor Sahib’ is ego-boosting but it can cause incalculable harm if it dawns later on that the appellation was not earned but gotten thanks to the indulgent education system.
Updated Date: Sep 19, 2015 16:01:28 IST