Published: 03rd July 2019
#PhDMeToo: Research scholars start #MeToo campaign to call out guides who harassed them
The campaign that was kickstarted by IISER researcher Sachin Batar on July 3, is using the hashtag #PhDMeToo and is urging researchers to come forward with their stories
Inspired by the #MeToo campaign, research scholars all over India have started a similar campaign to call out cases of harassment by research guides in premier institutes across the country — including the IITs, IISER and CSIR-linked institutes. This comes right after IIT Indore PhD scholar Shyam Singh and IIT Guwahati researcher Srijib Karmakar accused their respective guides of harassment.
The campaign that that has been launched with the hashtag #PhDMetoo was kickstarted by Sachin Batar, an IISER Pune researcher on July 3. The organisers are calling researchers to tell their stories on social media using this hashtag and hope to create the kind of 'name and shame' impact that the #MeToo campaign had last year.
A representative of the Research Scholars of India, Sachin says that he himself was subject to harassment by his previous research guide, in the academic year 2015-2016. "There was a lot of harassment and threatening. My previous guide had even threatened to throw me out of the lab and the institute. Thankfully, I left that lab and I got a new guide assigned," he says.
Following Shyam's and Srijib's cases, Shyam says that a number of researchers across the country have contacted him, talking about various cases of harassment. "I am facing misconduct and mental harassment from my supervisor. But all the higher authorities did was promote him," wrote a researcher from the Regional Centre for Biotechnology to Sachin. Another researcher says that she had to leave her research in India, owing to her guide's harassment, that resulted in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. "We hope that the MHRD, PMO, DST and the other policy-making bodies take appropriate actions and make better policies to favour PhD students," says Sachin. "There should be a dispute grievance portal and an independent committee to solve the disputes between PhD students and their guides," he adds.
"Most researchers that I know are too scared to speak up, fearing that their guides wouldn't give their project a good recommendation and this can end their career," he says. "This system must be changed," he concludes