The controversial circular by the Central University of Kerala (CUK) restricting research topics for PhD students to ‘national priorities’ has led to another Board member resigning in protest. Dr PM Radhamany, who is a member of the Board of Studies, resigned on Tuesday.
This comes just days after Dr Meena T Pillai, also a Board of Studies member, had resigned over the issue on March 21.
The circular had turned controversial, grabbing national attention from academic, political and public circles alike. Following this, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had stated that they had not issued directions to restrict the choice of research.
On Monday, the MHRD issued a statement that the government believes in the principle of freedom in research and that it had not issued any such directive. “Last year, a meeting of Vice Chancellors of 11 central universities was held. In the meeting, they presented a roadmap to improve research and also discussed the issue of more research to be done on issues relating to national priorities,” stated the press release of MHRD.
The resignation of Dr Radhamany comes a day after MHRD released its statement. Dr Radhamany was nominated as a member of Board of Studies two months ago.
Speaking to TNM on the issue, Dr Radhamany said that it was not right for the university to put a restriction on the freedom of research scholars. “Students should be given a free atmosphere to engage in their works genuinely, this unfortunately is not there in Central University of Kerala. Though my resignation was sparked by the circular which denied opportunity for students to do research freely, this is also against the general intervention of some ideologies in the higher education system of the country,” she said.
Ambiguous climb-down of CUK officials
Given the widespread attention the issue has received, the CUK officials took a step back by saying that the circular was not a final decision and that it was just a suggestion given to the head of departments.
“It was just a circular which gave a suggestion to the head of departments about this idea. It was not mentioned that this will be implemented,” registrar Dr A Radhakrishnan Nair told TNM.
But the circular issued on March 13 had clearly stated that in accordance with the meeting held last year, the ‘vice chancellor has decided to implement the following in Central University of Kerala’. Now, the university officials claim that the circular was not final.
University officials have now stated that this will be implemented only after discussions with the faculty in the university. “No faculty of the university till this time has come to us seeking an explanation or to discuss the matter regarding this circular. There is a clear political agenda to make this issue controversial,” said Dr Radhakrishnan.