Thursday, September 09, 2010

Delhi is also Ph.D. capital of the country

Delhi may be home to only a few universities (19), but that has not stopped it from emerging as the Ph.D. capital of the country. In the last decade, from 1998 to 2007, Delhi has produced over 17% of the total doctoral theses in India. West Bengal is a distant second at 11.9%, followed by Maharashtra, which despite having the largest number of varsities in the country (96), merely contributed 8% to the Ph.D. pool. These figures are based on a sample survey.

This is the first time in India that researchers sifted through thousands of theses lying in university library vaults to tabulate and analyze the country's body of research. The paper researched by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at Bangalore is a pointer to what thousands of doctoral fellows in the country have been exploring and producing on thickets of bound paper. In fact, it took Anitha Kurup, an Associate Professor at NIAS, and Jagdish Arora, Director,Information and Library Network Centre who received a grant from the Tata Consultancy Services a year to get all the raw data in place. In their report, Trend in Higher Education Creation and Analysis of a Database of PhDs in India,they have principally recommended that a single agency should draw up a database on Ph.D.s, and also assimilate the profiles of doctoral fellows.

As observed in the report, two-third of all the Ph.D.s has been awarded to males; and across genders, the attrition rate stands at 50% --- only one out of two people who register for the hallowed Ph.D. degree, manage to reach the finishing line. Delhiites contributed the most, producing 2381 Ph.D.s in the field of medicine, followed by research in pure sciences.

Even in terms of the subjects chosen there has been a noticeable shift in trends. While the largest amount of research has been carried out in pure sciences, in recent years humanities is leading the pack to become the most popular discipline that is being currently explored.

There have been some other interesting changes in the pecking order. The growth in agriculture is seen from the year 2000, when it overtook other disciplines such as engineering and technology, and medicine. But the interest in the field tapered off towards the end of the period, with the numbers falling below engineering and technology in 2007, the report noted. Disciplines that have consistently recorded lower number of Ph.D.s are mostly professional in nature.
Speaking to TOI, Kurup said that as India competes in the information age, Ph.D.s are markers as they contribute to knowledge. "However, I would attach a rider to my research, which is that the number of Ph.D.s has nothing to do with the quality of work we are producing. But first, it is essential to know where our Ph.D.s are being produced and who is bringing them out", she added.

If one were to compare the research output to the local universities, Delhi again performs best in terms of Ph.D.s produced annually in each state (874.7), followed by Haryana (312.4) and Uttar Pradesh (285.3).

Source: The Times of India, September 9, 2010
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