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Research unit fails to run full-fledged PhD programme

Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy was set up in 2008 with the aim of hosting the projects on caste-based discrimination and anti-caste traditions
Representational image.
Representational image.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 16.02.22, 01:52 AM

A central university set up to promote education among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has for the 14th year running not invited applicants for PhD courses at its centre on social exclusion, prompting students from deprived sections to threaten a protest.

The Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) at the Lucknow-based Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University was set up in 2008 with the aim of hosting research projects on caste-based discrimination and anti-caste traditions. But other than offering some elective courses to undergraduate and postgraduate students that form a minor component of their syllabus, the four-faculty-member-strong CSSEIP has never run a full-fledged PhD programme.


The PhD admission process notified on Monday by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University for the 2021-22 winter session does not mention any opportunities at the CSSEIP.

The incongruity is accentuated by the fact that Ambedkar University is the only higher education institution in the country that reserves 50 per cent seats in every course for SCs and STs and also by Uttar Pradesh’s execrable record on caste atrocities.

Students from deprived sections at the university have said they will begin a protest from Wednesday to demand PhD programmes at the CSSEIP, which used to receive funds from the University Grants Commission (UGC) to offer courses and undertake relevant research. In 2017, the university said it would fund the centre from its internal resources.

Ambedkar University’s academic council, the highest decision-making body on matters related to education, had on December 22, 2021, approved a course structure and syllabus for PhD programmes at the CSSEIP. The academic council had resolved that a panel would be formed to examine finance, infrastructure, seats and scholarships at the CSSEIP. The council authorised vice-chancellor Sanjay Singh to take the final decision based on the committee report.

Sources said the committee submitted its report on February 6, endorsing the launch of PhD programmes at the CSSEIP. However, a decision was not taken before the prospectus for PhD admissions was notified.

A similar push in 2015 for PhD at the centre had remained stillborn.

Like at Ambedkar University, the UGC started similar centres in 2008-09 at 30 other varsities across the country. The centres are located at institutions such as Hyderabad Central University, Jawaharlal Central University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Banaras Hindu University. They have been offering PhD courses since the inception of the centres.

Basant Kanaujaya, a PhD student and member of the Ambedkar University Dalit Students Union, said he had written to VC Singh about the protest plan from Wednesday.

“This research centre is for the deprived and socially backward sections. The administration does not want the centre to start research activities for the deprived sections,” Kanaujaya said.

He said the objective of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University was to help the deprived sections by offering education and research on issues affecting them. The CSSEIP is aimed at achieving the objective but roadblocks have been put up over the past 14 years, Kanaujaya said.

“This centre can do research on caste-based discrimination and atrocities, violation of reservation policies, etc. Some people do not want such research to be undertaken,” he said.

The four faculty members at the centre can guide a total of 18 research scholars in PhD programmes.

In Uttar Pradesh, in whose capital Ambedkar University is located, crimes against SCs and STs have increased in recent years. According to a reply by then junior Union home minister G. Kishan Reddy in the Rajya Sabha on March 17, 2021, the state witnessed 8,357, 10,426, 11,444, 11,924 and 11,829 cases of atrocities against SCs in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Prof. N Sukumar, who teaches political science at Delhi University and is an Ambedkarite scholar, said the UGC started these centres as the mainstream disciplines such as political science, sociology and history at different universities do not take interest in matters of social inequality and deprivation.

“If the centre is allowed to offer PhD programmes, the research scholars will be able to conduct detailed studies on atrocities in the state and link it to the situation at the national level. They can study poverty in the contexts of caste and gender. People who do not want such research usually create roadblocks,” Sukumar said.

The Telegraph sent an email to Ambedkar University VC Singh asking why the CSSEIP was not being allowed to offer PhD courses and about the criticism for the delay. No response could be obtained. The newspaper also wrote to UGC chief M. Jagadesh Kumar asking if the commission had enquired why the CSSEIP was not offering PhD programmes and whether it would intervene. A response is awaited.

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