Std 10, Std 12. What next? It is often taken for granted that after Std 12, one will go to college to earn a degree… BA, BCom, BSc, BBM, LLB, MBBS, BE…. Even if one has the courage to fall away from this path and venture into non-Bachelor Degree areas or jobs, it is common to find people working for a degree through part-time or correspondence courses.
A degree qualification is useful to get a job and following this, a good designation and a good salary. A degree also gives one good standing in the family and society. ‘Uneducated’ parents will proudly talk about how their daughter has become the first ‘graduate’ in the family, and is all set to lift them out of penury. Surely BA sounds better than 12th Class pass. And BE sounds better than ITI training.
There are three degree rows in current news:
Vinod Tawde, Education Minister of Maharashtra claims to have a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree from Dnyaneshwar University, Pune, an institution that was functioning without proper approvals. He completed the course and was awarded a BE (Electronics) degree. The university was subsequently derecognised with retrospective effect, as it did not have approval in the first place. Therefore, the degree he received would be considered invalid, maybe unfairly to him, which is probably why it does not stop him from claiming to be a BE degree holder.
Jitendra Singh Tomar, former Law Minister of Delhi claims to have a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree from Bishwanath Singh Institute of Legal Studies, Munger, affiliated to Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, Bihar. Allegations are that his degree certificate is fake, meaning that though he may have been enrolled in the college for the course, he didn’t finish it and the university did not award him a degree certificate. So he got the law degree certificate though questionable means. ‘Bought’ in other words. This does not stop him from claiming to be an LLB degree holder.
Smriti Irani, HRD Minister of India, claims to have, at different points in time, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Delhi University (School of Correspondence), BCom Part I from Delhi University (School of Correspondence) and BCom Part I from Delhi University (School of Open Learning). Which of these if any, is true, is to be investigated.
There are other less conspicuous cases. Like the one where an engineering student got someone else to write his second year Maths paper because he couldn’t clear it in the three attempts he had made. With this proxy, he passed, got his BE degree certificate, and went on to do ME and PhD. Then there is the case where a BSc student befriended the university clerk. She got the failing marks of 24 in Computer Science changed to 64 in the excel ledger, before the marks cards were printed, enabling a first class pass and award of the degree.
More than an education, it is evident that having a degree is so important to people in India, that if they are unable to study and earn one, they are willing to do whatever else it takes to be able to say that they have one.
Unlike other jobs, the job of a politician requires no degree. In fact, no minimum educational qualification. So why would people in politics misinform the public about their education? Respect. Trust. Getting voted to power. Cabinet post. When one gets found out, all of these is lost, and sets a poor model of public morality. In an affidavit, on oath, it cannot be defended. Punishments need to be firm.
On the other side, our education system needs to be revamped. But that makes for another discussion!