Published: 08th March 2021
A college lecturer in Kerala burnt his PhD thesis in front of the Malayalam University, video goes viral
Aji KM is currently a lecturer of Malayalam in a private college in Kerala. He burned his PhD research papers on Saturday
It has been a little over a decade since Aji K M submitted his final PhD thesis in Malayalam literature to the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala. Two years later, in 2012, the university awarded him a PhD degree. Back then, he may not have thought that there will come a day in which he will burn the thesis, which took him around six years to complete.
Aji burned his thesis in front of the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University's main office on Saturday, alleging discrepancies in the university's recruitment. "Backdoor recruitments are rampant in public universities in Kerala. You either have to have favourable political lenience or be the Vice Chancellor's favourite," he says. A guest lecturer at a private college in Kerala, Aji says that his application did not even make it to the university's shortlist, despite him having fulfilled all the criteria for the advertised post.
A video of Aji burning his thesis after drenching it in a can full of kerosene has now gone viral on social media. Shouting slogans against the university, he hung a few placards around his neck. The fire was soon put off by the university's security and staff and towards the end of the video, they are seen trying to push Aji away. "I was told that my application did not reach them at the right time," he says, "But I do not think that is the case." He then narrates similar incidents in the past, where his names haven't appeared in the rank lists of other universities too when he had all the required qualifications.
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The thesis did take this 42-year-old a really long time to write. However, he tells us that rather than being overcome by emotions, he was hell-bent on making a point. "This was my only way of protest. What is the whole point of carrying this thesis and my PhD certificates around, if nothing good comes out of it?" he asks. A few other PhD holders too were apparently set to accompany Aji to burn their research papers too, but Aji tells us that he discouraged them from doing so. "I am 42 now. I will soon cross the eligible age to apply as a faculty member in a government university. But most of the others are much younger and have chances of having an academic career. I do not want this incident to be a hurdle on their journey ahead. So, I thought of going solo," he says.
Aji has also thought of a backup career if no favourable opportunity comes his way. "I love farming. I am now planning to walk all the way from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala's southernmost district, to Kasargod, the northernmost one, to meet researchers on the way and make them aware of the recruitment discrepancies happening in the academic sphere. En route, I would work on farmlands as a daily wage labourer and survive with that money," he says, not ready to give up.