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Scrap worker loses sense after exposure to dumped PhD thesis

03, May 2010 By Pagal Patrakar

New Delhi. The threat of disposal of toxic waste by universities has turned really serious after a scrap worker was found to have turned totally senseless this morning when he was accidentally exposed to a thesis manuscript lying in a heap of waste. The incident comes close to Delhi University dumping Cobalt-60 and Uranium-235 in public places, which had led to the death of a scrap worker earlier. Preliminary investigations suggest that the thesis came from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

“The worker, Santosh Choudhry, was collecting scrap from a garbage heap in the Ber-Sarai area, when he found this PhD thesis copy in spiral bound. It seems he flipped the pages out of curiosity, and since then he is not able to talk or think straight.” NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation) official Kalpesh Malik said.

A PhD thesis
A PhD thesis is supposed to come out after a lot of mental effort goes into it

Santosh has been admitted in the psychiatry department of AIIMS, where the doctors are trying their best to bring him back to the senses.

“He has been babbling something about revolution, battles, mountains and minerals since he was brought this morning. We summoned his family after our attempts to engage him in some sort of dialogue failed, but he has refused to identify even his family members and has been talking to himself all through.” Dr. Praveen Chopra informed, terming Santosh’s condition as out of danger but unstable.

Police have sealed the area around the garbage heap in Ber-Sarai and have started the investigations. Sources indicate that the suspected toxic PhD thesis came from JNU.

“We are looking into all the aspects of the problem. It’s true that Ber-Sarai area is frequented by JNU students and there are many shops offering services for printing and collating PhD thesis manuscripts. We can’t tell you more at this point of time.” a Delhi Police official said.

But the incident has caused uproar in the JNU campus, which is known for protests, sloganeering and placard drawings by its resident students.

“Not only thesis manuscripts, someday a PhD student will be found lying in a garbage dump causing mental hazard to other scrap worker. This is a wake-up call for all universities offering PhD course and all the PhD students.” said Amit Yadav, a PhD student who is trying to finish his thesis work for the last six years.

JNU students are sharply divided over what could have caused the scrap worker to lose senses. While some of them believe that it was the Abstract part of the thesis, others believe that the worker might have gone through the list of References or Acknowledgment, while a few maintain that it must have been the Literature review part.

“Why are we so sure? It might have been just a thesis proposal.” opined another student, taking part in a debate that soon got heated and divided along ideological lines, but all of them agreed that the PhD guide or the supervisor was to be blamed.

Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has ruled out action against anyone in this case as a matter of policy.