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Dr. Narendra Dabholkar

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Prabhakar Nanawaty

Suman Oak

Philosophical Consequences of Modern Science : ‘Thesis’ Antithesis

The facts relating to this Thesis constitute interesting reading. The zigzag turns, the twists all give a touch of drama to the course of the Thesis. Its chequered career is influenced and shaped by acts of well meaning and honest persons as well as by the sly and subtle ways of some others.

Mr. N. Innaiah enrolled himself as a research scholar for Ph.D. degree course of OsmaniaUniversity in the Department of Philosophy in October, 1965. The topic of research was “The Philosophical Consequences of Modern Science with special reference to the problem of Determinism.” He had passed the preliminary Ph.D. test held in September, 1966.  Mr. Innaiah was then one of the Lecturers in the Philosophy Department of Osmania University. As such, he submitted some research papers. They were commended by his supervisor for publication as article. He submitted his Thesis on 3rd October, 1969. He was not informed about the fate of his Thesis even by 22nd June, 1973. Then the scholar wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor of Osmania University requesting him, for the information. On 17th December, 1974 he was asked by the Controller of Examinations to revise his Thesis. He was furnished with extracts from the, reports of the Examiners. He submitted his revised Thesis on 30th March, 1976 .

It is not out of place to refer to something that ‘happened prior to March 1976. There was a move to get an AurobindoUniversity established, by Prof. Madhusudhana Reddy. He is an Aurobindite. It was felt in many circles that he was making strenuous efforts to get an AurobindoUniversity established, This gave rise to a tirade against the said move ‘by the rationalists and radical humanists in the form of a press statement. They wrote a ‘Letter to the Editor’ in a local English Daily. This seems to have irked the Aurobindites of Hyderabad. In the meanwhile, a One-man Commission headed by a retired Judge of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Mr. V. Parthasarathi, was appointed to go into the affairs of the University. Naturally, the way the Thesis of Mr N. Innaiah was dealt with, figured as one of the matters enquired into by the Commission. The report of the Commission in respect of the manner in which the Thesis was handled is revealing. It spoke of the entire episode as one of ‘wrecked hope’ and ‘a blasted career. It stated that one could not part with the case “without being shaken to the core of one’s being.” Elsewhere in the report it is observed that “it is frustration that grows out of weary years of waiting that enhances or deepens the pathos of the tragedy.” The Com­mission commented that the matter was “muddled through for several months with the incept handling repeating itself in an incredible manner.” This evidently referred to the University’s delay in taking the necessary action just prior to its directing the candidate on 17th December, 1974 to revise his Thesis. The Commission did not leave the matter without indicating the examination branch of the University by saying “that no one associated with the matter is free from blame.”

It seems that the report of the Commission was sent to Dr. V Madhusudhana Reddy for comment. Events followed fast. Mr. Innaiah’s supervisor and guide Dr. Madhusudhana Reddy tendered his resignation to the post of Professor and Head of Department of Philosophy. The news of this event was reported in the press with the date line of 25th April, 1976. Even this incident created problems for Mr. Innaiah for he was asked to submit the revised Thesis with the certificate from his supervisor. Under the circumstances then prevailing, it was impossible.

Several factors till then unknown to the candidate became known, thanks to the enquiry by the One-man Commission. It seems that at first three examiners were appointed to evaluate the Thesis. They are :

 

Prof. Leo Gabriel of Austria.

Dr. Daya Krishna, Jaipur.

Dr. V. Madhusudhana Reddy, Supervisor.

 

While Prof. Leo Gabriel and Dr. V Madhusudhana Reddy had recommended the award of Ph.D degree, Dr. Daya Krishna had recommended its rejection. The University Syndi­cate at its 143rd meeting, held on 17th April, 1971, had resolved that the Thesis of Mr.lnnaiah be referred to the fourth examiner. The offer was made to three foreign examiners in succession and ultimately it was sent ro Prof. Richard Hecking of USA, on 6th July, 1972. Since the report of Prof. Hecking was not received for a long time, Dr. Milick Gapek of BostonUniversity was appointed as examiner. He sent the report in February 1974, stating that the Thesis should be thoroughly revised and resubmitted. The case was submitted to the University Syndicate on 10th June, 1974. It seems that the syndicate has resolved to call upon the candidate to revise the Thesis. The communication of the Syndicate’s direction was made on 17th December 1974. Thus it can be seen that it took nearly two years from 17th April, 1971 onwards, for selecting an examiner who could be expected to agree to do the evaluation. Thereafter it took nearly four months for submitting the matter to the Syndicate i.e., from February, 1974 to June, 1974 . Yet another six months were allowed to lapse from 10th June, 1974 to 17th December, 1974 to communicate the syndicate’s resolution to the candidate. It is this delay that was the subject of adverse comment by the One-man commission headed by Mr. Parthasarathy,

The English daily press reported the news of the report by the Commission and the consequent resignation of the guide. As per Rule 26(b) of Ph.D. rules of OsmaniaUni­versity, the revised Thesis shall, as tar as possible, be referred to the same examiners for their opinion. But this rule was not brought to the notice of the Vice-Chancellor who appoint­ed on 18th May, 1976, the following three teachers as examiners :

 

Prof. K Satchitananda Murthy, Tirupathi

Prof. N K Devraj, Varanasi

Dr, Barlingay, Poona

 

The Thesis was sent to the said examiners who sub­mitted the reports. While Dr. K. Satchitananda Murthy recom­mended the award of Ph.D. degree, Prof. N. K. Devraj and Dr. Barlingay, have suggested the revision of the Thesis. On 11th January, 1977 the syndicate passed a resolution to call upon the candidate to revise and resubmit his Thesis in the light of the remarks made by examiners (2) and (3). All these facts are adverted to in the note before the syndicate at its meeting on 4th June, 1977 .  The Dean, Faculty of Arts was requested on 1st  March, 1977 to communicate to the candidate that he should revise the Thesis. He was suggested that the reports of the three examin’rs be communicated to the candidate. Accordingly, on 10th March, 1977, the University sent a note to the candidate calling upon him to revise the thesis. The extracts from the reports of the examiners were supplied to him .  On 21st May, 1977 he wrote a letter to the University protesting against the procedure and requesting that he be awarded with the degree of Ph.D. The University seemed to have been perplexed by the very irregu­larities it had been committing and so it was considered by the syndicate at its meeting on 4th June, 1977. It decided to cancel the communication dated 10th  March, 1977, directing revision. It further directed the Controller of Examinations to send the revised Thesis of 30th March, 1976 to Dr. Mitlic Gaspek of USA, Dr V. Madhusudhana Reddy and Prof. Leo Gabriel. In June 1977, two copies of the Thesis were sent to Prof. Leo Gabriel and Prof. Gaspek. Prof. Gaspek sent it to his colleague Prof. N. Bhattacharya and the University later acquiesced in it. Prof. Bhattacharya sent his report on 30th March, 1978. to Prof. K J Shah, who was appointed in the place of Prof. Madhusudhana Reddy, who did not reply to the University’s communication, he being out of service then, Prof. Shah sent his report on 18th September, 1978. Both the examiners rejected the thesis. All these facts became known when the University filed a counter to the  W.P. 476 of 1979, on the file of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

On 15th June, 1977, Mr. Innaiah was informed that his representation was under consideration. Evi­dently the University did not choose to inform the candidate about the revised Thesis being sent to the original examiners. As time was running fast, as nearly 10 years have elapsed after the candidate’s submission of the Thesis on 3rd October, 1969, he became courageous enough to file a Writ Petition No. 476 of 1979 in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh on 19th January 1979, praying for the issue of a writ of mandamus directing the University to constitute a Board of Examiners to conduct the Viva-voce for him in relation to his Thesis. The University filed the counter. The position stood thus — The original Thesis was read by four examiners out of which two have recommended award of the degree; one recom­mended rejection and one opted for directing revision. The revised Thesis was perused by five examiners out of which one has recommended acceptance, two for rejection and two opined that it needed revision. Thus out of nine Scholars who had the privilege of examining the Thesis either in the original form or in the revised form, opinions were expressed as follows. Three examiners recommended acceptance, while another three examiners rejected its worthiness and the remaining three chose to direct revision. Thus it is evident that the matter was not free from doubt. Moreover, one fact became evident that there was a wide difference of opinion between the Austrian school and the AmericanSchool in respect of the subject itself. This can be inferred from the communication of Dr. Gaspek to the University as referred to the counter to WP. 476 of 1979.  Prejudices seemed to have played a vital part in the decision of the examiners who ought to be above these considerations. Apart from that, the University cannot be expected to direct the candidate to revise the Thesis twice, as rules do not permit the same. What all happened after the reports of the original examiners i.e., what happened after 1971 is null and void as being contrary to law and he rules. At any rate, as two out of the three examiners of the First Board recommended acceptance of the candidate’s Thesis, it should have been accepted for award of the degree.

Then Mr. Justice Alladi Kuppuswami, dierected the University on 6th February, 1980, to consider the position as it obtained in 1971 after the receipt of the reports of the examiners viz. Prof. V. Madhusudhana Reddy, Prof. Leo Gabriel of Austria and Prof. Daya Krishna. The Vice-Chancellor was directed to decide within one month whether he should direct the viva-voce examination to be conducted, or the Thesis should be revised or rejected. The Court was also pleased to direct that viva-voce should be conducted within two months if the Vice-Chancellor chose to do so.

One would expect smooth sailing thereafter, but alas,  it was not so. Mr.Innaiah as called upon by the University by its communication dated 16th April, 1980 to appear for the viva-voce examination on 27th April, 1980. He complied with the direction. There, to his dismay and consternation, he found only two examiners, one who rejected his Thesis viz. Prof. Daya Krishna and the other his erstwhile supervisor Prof, V. Madhusudhan Reddy who by that time rejoined service in the University. What happened at the interview was far from being happy. The viva-voce examination was not utilised for the purpose for which it was intended i.e. to determine whether after all the scholar has written the Thesis or somebody else did it for him with the connivance of the supervisor. The two examiners did not have the advantage of reading the Thesis again for they did not have copies of the same with them. The last time they read it was in 1970 or so i.e., nearly a decade ago. The copy of the scholar was borrowed by them and questions poured forth. What transpired at the interview was referred by the candidate in his letters to the Vice-Chancellor dated 27th April, 1980. i.e., the very day of the examination and dated 6th May, 1980. On 16th June, 1980 the Vice-Chancellor of the University chose to reject the Thesis submitted by Mr. Innaiah. This was unexpected for the supervisor and   guide commended the Thesis as early as 1970. Presumably he must have changed his stand. Consistent with his earlier stand, Prof. Daya Krishna might have rejected the Thesis as unworthy for acceptance. Eyebrows were raised as it is probably the first time in the University that a Thesis was rejected in viva-voce and probably first occasion in the academic history of India when a guide and supervisor went back on his earlier recom­mendation. Mr. Innaiah filed the Writ Petition No. 3452 of 1980, praying that the Andhra Pradesh High Court might be pleased to direct the University to award the degree of Ph.D. to him. The University filed a counter. Ms. Justice Amareswari by her judgement dated 14th April, 1981, accepted the contention of the scholar that viva-voce conducted on 27th April, 1980, was against the rules framed by the University as only two examiners were present then. The Hon’ble judge set aside the viva-voce. She opined that there was neither logic nor justification in appointing Dr. Daya Krishna as an examiner for the viva-voce as he had earlier rejected the thesis outright and denounced it in the harshest terms. Prof. Madhusudhana Reddy was found to have written on 27th April, 1980 to the Vice-Chancellor. His letter reads as follows ;- “In the context of the disturbing controversy into which my name got involved, I request you kindly to keep me out of any panel of adjudica­tors that you may contemplate for the purpose,” This attitude of Prof. Madhusudhana Reddy was quite appropriate and befitting the membership of the academic community had the matter stood there.

Moreover Mr. Parthasarathy as the One-man Commission, opined that one of the contribu­tory factors for the delay in respect of the Thesis was “remissness” on the part of the internal examiner, thereby meaning Dr. Madhusudhana Reddy. It was unfortunate that he should have decided to sit as an examiner for viva-voce. The Court thought that Dr. Madhusudhana Reddy’s presence at the viva-voce examination, should be dispensed with, in the circumstances of the case, It opined that the University has power under Rule 32 to dispense with the viva-voce in certain cases. It directed the University to adjudicate upon the Thesis in the light of its observations without any further delay. To a call attention of an M.L.A., the Hon’ble Minister for Education stated in the A.P. Legislative Assembly that the University has decided to award the degree of Ph.D to Mr. Innaiah in the Convocation to be held on 14th May, 1981. Ultimately, he was awarded with the degree. Thus, Mr. !nnaiah became Dr. Innaiah,

The price paid by Mr. Innaiah was heavy. For want of Ph.D. degree he had to lose the opportunities of continuing in the University. He became a freelance journalist and ulti­mately ended up by now as a working journalist. It took him nearly 12 years after the submission of his Thesis to get the degree. It involved two legal battles in the High Court. The University took nearly eleven years to reject the Thesis at the first instance. Such an inordinate delay engendering horrible mental agony to the scholar is unheard of in the annals of the academic life.

Mr. N K Acharya the present president of the Hyderabad Rationalist Association and editor of the ‘Indian Rationalist’ during 1967-1971 stood the ground and argued Mr. Innaiah’s case with ability and steadfastness of purpose.

The success of Mr. Innaiah is the tale of victory of the cause of ‘Justice to the Scholars.’ It may appear to be the lone fight of a single person; yet it partakes of the chara­cter of a fight for the vindication of rights of scholars to have their dissertations treated with consideration and sympathy in keeping with the highest principles of the academic life. It is neither a craving for charity nor is a praying for mercy. It is a reminder to the Academies to keep flying the banner of intellectualism in the country. It is a beacon light beckoning the academic community to develop spirit of enquiry, respect for knowledge and attitude of detachment. All kudos to Dr. Innaiah who braved the hardship and suffering to raise the standard of revolt for a just and noble cause.

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