[Jigar] Patel claims in his application that he was asked by [V.K.] Jain to do odd jobs like repairing his scooter’s flat tyre and depositing cheques. Patel has submitted a copy of the log book. An entry in Patel's log sheet on October 16, 2005, which carries Jain's signature, states, "Went to BSNL office, creation for printer work, post-office, watch shop for repairing, complex preparation of dyes and computer work."
Another entry dated September 19, 2005 reads, "Printer repair, mouse change and searched for 'Jhaadu' (broom)." Similar entries appear practically every day till September this year on Patel's log sheet.
Intrigued? According to this ToI report, V.K. Jain is faculty member in the chemistry department of Gujarat University, and Jigar Patel is his Ph.D. student.
Some years ago, Kumudam, a Tamil weekly magazine, did an exposé on the way professors treated their students in Tamil Nadu universities: students were made to do all kinds of non-academic (domestic?) odd jobs such as grocery shopping, baby-sitting or driving around professors' children, etc. In one case, women students were made to do an elaborate rangoli at the wedding of a professor's daughter!
When you read the ToI story, you'll see a bemused tone in describing all those grossly unprofessional actions by the research guide. In fact, the story starts with an ancient comedy show with eerily similar incidents. Since this report treats its subject largely as a joke, I would have to assume that this sort of unprofessional conduct by professors is rare.
Am I right in this assumption?
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One more observation before I close. The students have an extensive information network (hostels and messes, coffee shops, cultural activities centre, etc. in the physical world, and e-mail, orkut, bulletin-boards, chat rooms in the virtual world) through which they get to know about the good, the bad and the ugly among their professors. With so much of information floating around, and since choosing one's advisor is the most important decision in a graduate student's life, why do some students seek out and choose such 'bad' professors? Shouldn't they be exercising better judgement?
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Thanks to Pradeepkumar for the e-mail alert.