Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
On Thursday, 5 January 2023, I met PhD students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi at their campus. PhD scholars of the 2018 batch spoke to me on the issue of submission of their research work.
They said due to COVID, they did not get enough time to work on their PhD, for which they want a year’s extension on the final submission date of their thesis.
"We are given four years to complete our PhD. From 2018 to 2020, my PhD topic was selected, and in 2020, my research topic was finalised. I had to go out on the field and interview people. When COVID happened, the country was under lockdown. At that time, it was not possible for me to go on the field, speak to people and fill out my questionnaire."Satish Chandra Yadav, PhD Scholar, JNU
While students couldn't to go on the field due to COVID restrictions, many students also suffered health issues during the period. Jagriti Pandit, a PhD scholar, says, "I have been very ill. I suffered from COVID and then had some surgeries. So, my fieldwork got hampered."
"My work was in rural areas and villages, and I could not access the villages (during COVID). Think about it. I have just completed my fieldwork, and they ask me to submit my research work. To feed, run and analyse the data, we at least need one year," added Jagriti.
Moreover, several students also suffered because their lab samples got destroyed during the lockdown.
"I research wild types of rice plants. It takes six months to collect their seeds. My batch of transgenic plants was growing in the greenhouse. The lockdown kept on stretching, because of which there was no one to water the plants, and my batch of plants got destroyed. This was two years of my hard work, and it was destroyed."Akash Sharma, PhD Scholar, JNU
For this issue, JNU does provide two options for the students.
A) Avail an extension of one year as per the university's clause 9 B, which says, "The Committee for Advanced Studies and Research on the recommendations of the concerned Centre/Department may accept the request of a candidate whose name has been removed from the rolls of the University under, to get re-enrolled and become eligible for submission of their thesis, provided that they submit their thesis within one year from the date of his/her re-enrolment."
B) De-register from the university and submit the thesis as an outside student.
Many scholars don't want to exercise these options.
"We were asked to avail the provision of a one-year extension given in clause 9B of the university. It's good that we can get an extra year under 9B, but to avail that facility, we need to complete our research work by 80%-90%, which we have not been able to do due to COVID," said Debjyoti Ghosh, PhD Scholar, JNU
"If we don't get the time, then we will have to avail 9B at our own risk. It's ethically not possible because our research is incomplete. Otherwise, we will have to go for deregistration and sit at home. It will mean that I won't be a registered student at JNU, I won't be able to live at JNU, won't be able to use the library, and won't have an ID, but within ten years, I can submit my research. This is just for the namesake. In a way, it's a dropout as 5-6 years of our lives would be wasted, and we are going back home empty-handed without a degree."Debjyoti Ghosh, PhD Scholar, JNU
I did try to speak to the JNU administration. I met the deputy registrar. He refused to comment on the issue and said he was not authorised to talk about the subject. We want the problem to be resolved as soon as possible.
(The Quint has reached out to Jawaharlal Nehru University. Their response is awaited. Story would be published once response (s) are received.)
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)