A new regulation by Council of Scientific And Industrial Research(CSIR) makes it mandatory that research scholars give an undertaking pledging ‘monogamy’ and ‘true allegiance’ to India before availing the Junior Research Fellowship(JRF) programme.
The move is being widely criticised as another ploy to tighten government control on institutes of higher education.
“It is a part of the reactionary policies that have been followed by the HRD ministry for last two years. The central government shows their arrogance by introducing this undertaking-form, which interferes the personal freedom of a student. The central government and ruling party do not value the protests, against their policies on education, run by students of different varsities,” Students Federation of India (SFI), National President, V P Sanu said.
The new additions to the existing declaration form have sparked anger among the applicants for the Research Fellowship and Associateship.
“Such a declaration was not required when I enrolled,” said a research scholar who does not want to disclose her name.
The form has three separate declarations for ‘unmarried’, ‘married’ and ‘female’ applicants.
The ‘unmarried’ male candidate has to declare that he will not marry a second time while his wife is alive or without legal separation and without the permission of the competent authority.
A married male applicant has to declare that he does not have more than one wife living and that so long as he remains a recipient of the Council’s Fellowship/Associateship, he will not marry again, when his first wife is alive or till they are legally separated.
The ‘female’ candidate also has to declare that she will not marry any person who has a wife without first obtaining the permission of the competent authority.
The applicants also has to pledge an ‘Oath of Allegiance.’ The candidate has to ‘swear’ that he/she “will be faithful and bear ‘true allegiance’ to India and to the Constitution of India as by law established…” The ‘oath’ ends with the prayer “So help me God”.
While the oath and the undertaking are mandatory for all new entrants to government service, research candidates claim this is the first time the premier scientific research organisation is insisting on it.
Making students and research scholars take this oath is a part of the State’s new overreach.
“Anyone should have the fundamental right to believe or not to believe in God. The oath which ends with the quote ‘Please help me God’ denies the freedom of an atheist no to believe in the God. Even in law making bodies, people have the freedom to take an oath without invoking God. Why should CSIR ensure a ‘true allegiance’, to the country? Who defines the allegiance of a person to the country? It may be another move to impose the Hindu nationalist agenda,” said Sanu.
The new additions are relevant in the context of the new developments happened in JNU where the police slapped sedition charges and criminal conspiracy against four students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) after an event held on 9 February to mark the anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru, a convict in the parliament attack case.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement on 11 February that the “government will not tolerate any anti-national activities in the country and anyone raising anti-India slogans or questioning the nation’s unity and integrity, will not be spared,” had set the tone for a series of measures, university authorities undertook to curb academic freedom and legitimate dissent.