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BJP govt in Gujarat recommends Modi's schemes as PhD topics

Rathin Das | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:51 IST

Continuing with the BJP's agenda of making inroads into every field of academics, the state government in Gujarat is now trying to influence the topics that students work on for their PhD theses.

In an unprecedented move even among BJP ruled states, the Gujarat government has prepared a list of topics on which doctoral theses should be written on by students enrolling for the PhD in the state's universities.

Even a casual look at the 82 topics listed by the education department indicates that the intention is to get an academic endorsement of all the state government schemes, most of which where initiated or renamed during Narendra Modi's tenure as Gujarat chief ministers. In fact, the list of 82 topics serves as a ready reckoner of the names of the Modi dispensation's welfare schemes.

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There are, of course, a few exceptions like the "Maa Annapurna" scheme which is the state government's renamed version of the erstwhile UPA government's Food Security Act. It's implementation in Gujarat began only on 1 April this year, that too only after the Supreme Court passed strictures against Gujarat's reluctance on the matter.

Most of the 82 topics are schemes introduced or renamed when Narendra Modi was the CM

Some of the schemes suggested in the list of 82 topics are - Soil Health Card, Sujalam Sufalam Yojana, Mid Day Meal, Mukhyamantri Amritam Yojana, Chiranjivi Yojana, Gunotsav, Kanya Kelvani, Mahila Helpline, Role of Soya fortified wheat, 108 Emergency services and Save Water Campaign.

In most cases, the scope of the research is 'cost-benefit analysis' or 'socio-economic benefit' of the respective schemes listed as subject of research.

To be fair, it is not specified that the students have to necessarily hail the government schemes. But it is not rocket science to figure out what is being implied.

The academic community in Gujarat is obviously flummoxed at the government's audacity to dictate topics for doctoral research.

Prof Hemant Shah, an economist who had penned a studied critique of Gujarat's development claims in 2014, said that the list is a clear violation of academic autonomy of the universities system.

"It is not the government's business to suggest topics for research by PhD students," Prof Shah told Catch, urging universities not to follow the list dictated by the government.

"This is an infringement on academic freedom and autonomy as PhD topics are always decided by the research scholar and the guide," Shah added.

Dr Manish Doshi, a Senate member of Gujarat University and spokesperson of the state Congress, said that the list is yet another sign of the decay of the state's education system under the BJP rule.

"Instead of research on Gujarat government schemes, what needs to be researched are the scams of the BJP," said Dr Doshi.

Another academician called the list of 82 topics as "nonsense" saying that research reports on the success of government schemes are available in university libraries. Academics fear that students would feel forced to work on these suggested topics to boost their prospects of getting a job in a government college or university.

But academics supportive of the BJP government are defending the list. Former Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University Prof AU Patel is of the opinion that such studies of government policies would help identify the loopholes in the schemes.

Present Vice-chancellor Prof MN Patel regretted the trend to select irrelevant topics for doctoral research and said that such a list would help select relevant topics.

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First published: 26 April 2016, 9:36 IST