Published: 01st March 2021
Whistleblower professor's student gets PhD from IIT Kharagpur after 6 years
Shirole and Professor Rajeev Kumar had been approaching different authorities, including the office of the President of India, against the denial of PhD
A six years struggle for IIT Kharagpur scholar Mahesh Shirole ended recently when he was awarded a PhD degree after repeated rejections of his doctorate thesis since January 2015, his supervisor said. Shirole and Professor Rajeev Kumar had been approaching different authorities, including the office of the President of India, against the denial of PhD.
The president is the Visitor to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur among other central institutes. "I am happy that Mahesh Shirole has got a PhD degree after six years of battle with the IIT Kharagpur and the Ministry of Education," Kumar, who is Shirole's supervisor and is now a professor in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here, said.
Kumar, a former professor of the computer science and engineering department at IIT Kharagpur, said that Shirole could get his hard-earned degree only due to the intervention of the Visitor and direction from the concerned education ministry. "It is better to be late than never," he said. Shirole was awarded PhD in the 66th convocation of the institute, which was held virtually on Tuesday last week.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the convocation address as the chief guest. Shirole had submitted his thesis in 2014 for the award of PhD, which was accepted by an Indian examiner, but rejected by an NRI one, Kumar said, adding that as per the laid down practice, it was never sent to the third examiner.
Instead, the IIT kept on directing the student to revise the thesis and it was sent to the same NRI examiner thrice, who rejected it with new comments every time, he said. Kumar, who had been fighting for justice for his student, had claimed that the denial was the result of the institution's "vindictive attitude" towards him. "IIT Kharagpur's denial of PhD to the student is an extension of its vindictive attitude against me. IIT Kharagpur has been vindictive to me, as I disclosed arbitrariness and irregularities in IITs admissions in 2006 onwards, and contributed significantly in reforming IITs admissions and academic processes," he had said in his multiple appeals to authorities.
IIT Kharagpur had in May 2011 suspended Kumar on charges of misconduct. He was accused of damaging its reputation by levelling allegations of irregularities in admissions, purchase of laptops and rampant copying by students in exams. Then, the IIT imposed a penalty of his compulsory retirement in 2014, which was set-aside in 2017 by then president Pranab Mukherjee.
At that time, Kumar was appointed and joined JNU in 2015 during his legal fight over the issue. Kumar was hailed as an "unsung hero" bY the Supreme Court in 2011 for his efforts to reform the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which has since been re-christened as JEE-Advanced.