Maharashtra: Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's Controversial Remarks On PhDs Ignite Backlash

Maharashtra: Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's Controversial Remarks On PhDs Ignite Backlash

The opposition leader Ambadas Danve from Shiv Sena (UBT) said that the comment reeks of arrogance.

Rahul MUpdated: Wednesday, December 13, 2023, 09:59 PM IST
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ANI

Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) Ajit Pawar’s remarks in the state legislature about the futility of pursuing a PhD has sparked sharp reactions.

Responding to a demand by Congress MLC Satej Patil to increase the number of fellowships to Maratha students pursuing PhD, Pawar said that there’s no use adding to the number of PhD holders. “What good will they do (kay dive lavnar) after doing PhD,” the NCP leader said. The comment drew the ire of opposition leaders as well as students, who termed it an insult to research scholars.

The opposition leader Ambadas Danve from Shiv Sena (UBT) said that the comment reeks of arrogance. “The government shouldn’t make fun of PhD holders in this manner,” he said. While Congress state president Nana Patole criticised the government for being ‘anti-education’, Sambhaji Brigade state president Manoj Akhre said that he doesn’t expect anything better from a ‘non-graduate’ DCM.

Students at Shivaji University Kolhapur are also up in arms against Pawar’s remarks. They threatened to immolate themselves and work to defeat the ruling coalition if it doesn’t take a ‘positive decision’ about scholars.

Last week, state school education minister Deepak Kesarkar had also made similar remarks about the lack of career opportunities for PhD holders following demands by Other Backward Caste (OBC) students to increase their fellowships. “The only career option available for PhD holders is to teach. And there aren’t many teaching positions available at the moment,” the minister had said at a press conference.

“The government decides the number of graduates of a particular course based on its requirement. We are providing facilities for several courses. Students can pursue them,” he added.

The Free Press Journalhad earlier reported that the government is looking to drastically cut the number of fellowships awarded to research scholars belonging to marginalised communities. Over the past few years, there has been substantial growth in beneficiaries, much more than the actual number of fellowships sanctioned, due to persistent demand from students.

In June, at a meeting with officials from various government departments held in Mantralaya, Chief Secretary Manoj Saunik had directed to limit the number of fellowships to 400-200 for Scheduled Caste (SC), 100 for Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 50 each for OBC and Maratha students, according to minutes of the meeting accessed by FPJ. This is a sharp reduction from around 3,000 fellowships given to these students in the last cycle.

Under the fellowship schemes, the marginalised students pursuing PhD get a monthly stipend of Rs31,000 for the first two years and Rs35,000 per month for another three years. The government’s four autonomous organisations, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute, Tribal Research and Training Institute, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Research & Training Institute and Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research, Training and Human Development Institute, provide fellowships to SCs, STs, OBCs and Marathas, respectively.

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