‘Dr.’ on sale
What I’m about to say will make some people unhappy. But it is something which needs to be said. It is nothing new but those who are aware are not very vocal about it. If I say that what I am about to say is nothing personal, I’d be partially lying. I speak from the view point of highlighting a general pattern, but specific encounters influence the viewpoint I hold.
I speak about the people who had it relatively easy to put a ‘Dr.’ before their name; while some would struggle through hades to achieve it. We hear of cases when such title can be bought with money. Ph.D thesis which can escape plagiarism detection software can be bought from a photocopy shop outside the university gate, as per a news report. Honorary doctorate can be sold by bogus and even non-existent universities, in the guise of payment towards attending a super conference in a hotel somewhere away from the 'alleged' university. Accreditation bodies can also be 'manufactured' by nexus of ‘universities’; a university operating from a small building which is not bigger than a family cottage.
The craze for ‘Dr.’ is a result of the social status and prestige that is associated with the title. It was once a mark of achievement of the highest order in one’s field of study. It was awarded to those who jumped into the furnace and were forgotten, thought to be long dead; but came back one day having survived by the skin of their teeth. But not anymore. There are some who have prefixes and suffixes surrounding their name like mean celebrity bodyguards. But the moment they open their mouth or write a paragraph, one wonders if they have been reading Pran’s comic books.
There is no easy way to filter the quality of a degree. Quality varies among holders of a legitimate degree. But it is high time that we flag the bogus universities which are making business selling degrees to feed our desire for status and recognition in society. Institutes with no or questionable accreditation, unrecognized degrees and diplomas, tuition centres posing as universities, etc are not difficult to identify and locate. We have to make it clear that fake institutes and fake degrees/people are not honorable in the society.
With all due respect to those who love and pursue knowledge, a name prefix does not truly qualify a person. Ultimately, respect has to be earned by the quality of one’s work.