As the furor over proposed screening test for Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers is far from over, education and other department are gripped with a more severe crisis in the form of PhD degrees obtained through illegal means.
“There are hundreds of PhD degree holders who have completed their doctorate degree from outside state under suspicious circumstances and many have even purchased the same. Now these so called scholars, many of whom are working in the higher education department, are applying for higher posts and if everything goes as planned, they will be soon seen as HODs, directors, professors, researchers and so on,” said a scholar. “That will be the end of whatever credibility our education sector has.”
Among the scholar community, these PhDs are commonly known as “cement PhDs” due to their ability of cementing low IQ person to high level post and student of one field being able to do PhD in another field.
The UGC guidelines of 2009 clearly state that a student should be enrolled for PhD only after advertisement of PhD seat, entrance test, interview wherein the prospective candidate will discuss his doctoral thesis and so on. The guidelines are explicit how many PhD candidates a university can take and the qualification of guide. During job interview before the screening committee, a PhD degree holder has to produce the evidence of all these conditions.
For in-service candidates, there should be a gap between their service and PhD.
According to UGC rules, for PhD, a minimum residency period is needed and during that period the candidate must be relieved from his service. But in Kashmir all rules are flouted by these PhD degree holders, who have acquired the doctorate through means other than a proper channel.
“Yes this is a huge problem we face,” said Prof Musadiq, Registrar Kashmir University. “One of the biggest lacunae we see in such doctorates is that they are in-service employee and they still have managed to complete their PhD during their service period. The mandatory residency period is missing. Usually when their files come up in a screening committee, we check with their university and the whole truth comes to fore. We reject such candidates for appointments.”
“Our students are also having a tough time due to this situation. They spend their time and resources to get the degree and then they have to compete with these fake PhD degree holders,” said Musadiq.
For the appointment of a PhD degree holder for any post of professor, a screening committee is formed to check their ability and certificates. Musadiq said that many PhD degree holders have been rejected by the university after it was found that they have flouted the rules.
But according to sources, number of such candidates have managed to get plum posting after bribing their way through the screening committee. “Sometimes the screening committee is comprised of doubtful characters, who favour a shady PhD degree holder because he/she happens to be a relative or there is transfer of money,” said an insider at SKIMS. “We have seen candidates with PhD degrees obtained from institutes like one-room universities and they are currently working in higher education department, SKIMS and even KU.”
Incidentally SKIMS in one of its annual achievements writes that one of its PhD candidates is perusing the doctorate through distance learning. According to UGC rules, PhD course through distance education is not valid. There are at least two PhD degree holders vouching for coveted posts at SKIMS and GMC who have got their degree from a doubtful university which has already come under the scanner of UGC for providing PhD in distance mode.
PhD has become a big market and one can easily get a degree by paying onwards of Rs 10 lakh. “There is even provision of readymade thesis, so a candidate need not to worry about the study,” said a person who knows such a practice.
Coaching Centres Association (CCA) of Kashmir also acknowledges scourge of such fake PhD degree holders. “At times we get teachers with PhD degree, but they don’t know the ABC of teaching,” said G N Var, chairman CCA. “According to our estimate 20 percent of all PhDs in Kashmir are fake and obtained against all rules and norms.”
The insiders at KU said that more than 20 PhD degree holders in health department and more than 50 in higher education department are said to have obtained the doctorate degrees fraudulently. But due to the higher positions of such officials or their proximity with power corridors, government has till date not initiated any action against them.