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Mumbai: Here’s why MU PhD scholars are asking for probe into degree of Kirit Somaiya’s son

Neil Somaiya, who is the son of BJP Vice President, Maharashtra, Kirit Somaiya has courted controversy over attaining his PhD within 16 months of registration. |

Mumbai: With row erupting over Former MP and Vice President, BJP Maharashtra, Kirit Somaiya’s son 31-year-old Neil Somaiya being granted a Ph.D. in Management from Mumbai University within 16 months after he registered, and after 45 days and one-day post submission of thesis and viva voce respectively, Ph.D. research scholars at Mumbai University have raised concerns over the urgency of granting the degree and are demanding an independent investigation into the matter.

Candidates raise doubts over Somaiya being awarded degree after viva

The PhD-seeking candidates of MU have alleged bias in the procedure which probably led to the swift granting of the degree, something that has not been the norm for many like them who spend more than five-six years in some cases to receive the prestigious academic honour.

Rohit Dhale, President of ChhatraBharati Students Organisation, is one of the many Ph.D. candidates awaiting his registration, which will further help him choose a research topic. “You can ask any Ph.D. student and they will tell you that even after registration it can take years for one to finish their thesis because of the numerous corrections, suggestions, and angles that are needed to be taken into consideration by them.

We have to give an update about the progress of the research every 6 months and report to the Research Recognition Committee (RRC) about the various chapters, pilot studies, and much more,” said Dhale, who raised doubts about how Somaiya’s Ph.D. was awarded the very next day after his viva.

The tweet that caused the firestorm

Kirit Somaiya has also shared on Twitter an image of the university notification awarding the Ph.D. in philosophy to Neil with the caption “Dr. Neil Somaiya, yes My Son @NeilSomaiya is awarded Ph.D. Doctorate by University of Mumbai on his Thesis “Impact of Social Media on Political Party Image……” on October 1, after which the tweet went viral.

‘Has it been published in UGC-approved publications?’ ask Ph.D. scholars

Some have flagged that the research papers must be published in a UGC-approved national or international journal, something candidates have cast doubts about in the case of Somaiya’s research.

“Which research papers has he (Somaiya) published in national and international journals is something we have no idea. We must publish the same in a UGC-mandated publication after which you submit your research synopsis to the University and an external referee is appointed who further guides us,” said Sagar Bhalerao, a Ph.D. research scholar working on Mass Communication, who got his registration back in 2018.

According to official documents, Sydenham Institute of Management Studies has validated Somaiya’s admittance to the centre in 2017. The candidate’s acceptance date is taken into account as the registration date under the new Ph.D. regulations. These modifications were implemented in 2018 as it became clear that the long wait for student registration following RRC topic clearance was due to the irregular intervals at which these committees were formed. But the candidates have said that despite the advantage due to new modifications, things look fishy.

“It takes a minimum of three to four years from the date of registration to complete one’s thesis completely. There should be an inquiry committee set up to probe this incident especially when candidates are facing the repercussions of lack of fellowships, resources, etc,” said Amrin Moger, who is a Ph.D. scholar in Communication and Journalism. Amrin’s points were seconded by Shridhar Pednekar, President, Mumbai University Research Scholar Association, who added that a candidate generally waits for two to six months for viva after submission of a thesis which according to him was not followed in the above context.

MU, questions candidates, says Somaiya’s degree not fast-tracked

While questioning the candidates, Mumbai University deputy registrar Vinod Malale said that they are ‘not aware of the facts’ and added that the admission of Neil in 2017 is what matters.

“Neil Somaiya’s Ph.D. registration on June 1, 2021, and thesis submission on August 17 2022 i.e. after 14 months is well within the rules of minimum period of one year ( 12 months) required for submission of the thesis after registration as per section 7 sub-section 3 of VCD / 947 of 2018,” said Malale, who added that the admission which was confirmed by research Sydenham college on November 29, 2017, and was followed by submission of a thesis on August 17, 2022, i.e. 4 years 9 months period is also well within rules of section 7 sub-section 3 where this minimum period is mentioned as three years.

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