What will happen to us, MPhil students, at the hands of the New Education Policy 2020?

I am a research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in the final year of my MPhil degree. Already I was going through a huge crunch in my life because of COVID19 as like so many others I had to return home from my university campus. I had left all my books and study materials in the hostel, thinking I would come back and resume my research work. I live in Bihar, where obviously the internet doesn’t work as well as in the metro cities. So, I was really struggling with it throughout.

Somehow, I managed to start writing my dissertation chapter. The whole day’s struggle was giving me at least something as a result, and I felt that I might be able to complete a chapter before university resumed; then sit in my library and write the rest of my chapters well.

This was my plan; but nature had planned something else for me to do. My village in Bihar had to face the flood, and all the ideas which I had in mind for my dissertation were drowned deep in it. I had to pack all my belongings, laptop, the few papers I had, and keep them high on a cupboard while making sure the water didn’t enter my room. This is how my whole day was spent.

I was praying for something better to happen, to get back to my university where I could complete my research work and hand in my submissions on time. I was getting really anxious thinking about meeting the deadlines. I have not received my fellowship stipend since January. Many students are stranded like me across the country, without support.

Now the central government has brought in its “New Education Policy 2020”, approved by the Cabinet without even being placed in Parliament for deliberation.

The policy actually put me in a deep silence, as I read that the MPhil degree will be scrapped, which means that the two years from 2018 to 2020 which I have given to my MPhil will be scrapped, and even after completing my MPhil the highest degree to be counted would be my Masters.

Many of us dedicated two years to earning this degree, and now we are told it will have no importance in future! I feel I have lost the battle and wasted the efforts I put in throughout.

Clearly the government did not think about the students who are currently pursuing an MPhil, or who have applied for one, and were trying to make a career in research afterwards.

This government is continuously issuing arbitrary decisions without even thinking about those most affected. This is highly condemnable.

And once again, this government has acted to prevent students from marginalised communities from entering India’s dwindling research institutions. Given the existing structure of undergraduate and Master’s degrees in India, the MPhil is one of the most important ways to train students to do good research. Students coming from regional universities and non-English medium colleges will be directly affected if it is scrapped.

This is unacceptable.

Qasim Masumi is an MPhil Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University