Published: 10th May 2019
Here's why ABVP's Saurabh Sharma getting his PhD degree in JNU within a month has surprised everyone
An ABVP leader, Saurabh Sharma allegedly received his PhD degree within a month of his viva being held and allegedly on the same day that his viva results were published
For most of the MPhil and PhD students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, getting their theses cleared and eventually receiving their degrees has always been a hurdle. Students often tell us about how most of them have had to wait for months, or even years, for the administration to process their work and get their degrees and mark sheets, despite having their theses approved and vivas completed.
Which is why Saurabh Sharma, a PhD scholar in JNU's School of Computational And Integrative Sciences (CSIS) should consider himself exceptionally lucky. Sharma completed his viva and has allegedly gotten his marksheet and PhD degree on the day his viva result was published. An active member of the ABVP, he was the JNU Students' Union Joint Secretary in the academic year 2015-16.
If sources are to be believed, Sharma submitted his PhD thesis in the first week of April. His viva took place on April 18 and his degree was printed on the day of the result. There is also an allegation by the students and faculty of the university that Sharma's PhD was processed in a fast-track manner so that he can apply for a newly opened faculty position in CSIS. "The last date to apply for this position is May 9. This could be the reason for the administration to process his PhD this quickly. The position is for an OBC candidate and Sharma falls in this category," says a JNU Professor who did not wish to be named.
Why is this uncommonly strange?
The news of Sharma's PhD has created a lot of hue and cry among the faculty and students of the university. We were told by a few academics that no student has ever gotten their PhDs or MPhils on the day of their viva results. "There is something absolutely fishy here. Approval of PhDs is a long process. Even after the viva results, it usually takes a week or a couple of days for the degree to be generated. In bigger schools, it takes months," says a professor.
Photo op: Saurabh Sharma with PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and others
This was an absolute shocker for the students too, especially the ones who had submitted their theses years back. Neha*, who is currently pursuing her PhD at the university had a poignant anecdote to share. She had submitted her MPhil thesis in 2016. "My viva took place in June 2017 and I'm yet to receive my degree. I only have a provisional degree. Now, I'm applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to go to the US, which requires me to submit my degree. The provisional degree doesn't work here. If I don't get my degree in a day, I'll miss out on the deadline and lose a year," she says.
While four of her MPhil classmates have received their degrees, the other four are yet to receive theirs. Observing that Sharma's case was completely unfair, she says, "I have approached the administration many times and I was told that my degree cannot be printed. These issues have become regular in JNU since the time the current Vice Chancellor has taken charge. My degree is approved according to the university website, but it is still stuck in paperwork."
The stories roll on. Anant Prakash Narayan, a PhD scholar in the Centre for Study of Law and Governance submitted his thesis in July 2018. "Until now I have no idea about when my PhD will happen. We are in utter despair. I have lost all hopes. I feel like my life has come to a standstill," says Anant, who now works as a guest lecturer in a private institution. "It is quite clear that Saurabh Sharma has gotten his PhD because of the teaching position," he adds. Pushpak Roy, another PhD scholar at the university, calls the Saurabh Sharma incident scandalous. "I submitted my MPhil thesis three years back. I got my marksheets 2 years later. My degree is yet to be printed. I was told that the university doesn't have a printer to print my degree," he says.
The JNUSU also expressed their displeasure over the issue. "Why does Saurabh Sharma get special treatment while the administration sabotages the career of other students? We demand an answer and accountability for the unusual hurry in Saurabh Sharma's PhD evaluation and award of the degree. We also demand that degrees and other documents be issued to every student immediately so that they can get their synopses passed, get fellowships and apply for jobs," reads a statement
Calls and messages to Saurabh Sharma yielded no result. This copy will be updated when Edex receives a response from him.
*Name changed on request