Raisa Ansari
Image Credit: Twitter screenshot

Dubai: A 36-year-old woman, who claims to hold a PhD (Doctor Of Philosophy) in material science, has been forced to sell vegetables on a pushcart due to lack of jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. On Thursday, after municipal officers in Indore forcefully removed roadside vegetable carts including that of Raisa Ansari’s, it triggered her to join a protest. A video of her speaking in fluent English, as she protested, went viral on Twitter this weekend.

Ansari said she held a PhD from Indore's Devi Ahilya University, before starting the business. In the video that went viral, she alleged that vegetable vendors were being harassed by municipal officers.

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A video of her posted by Indian journalist, Anurag Dwary, went viral on Twitter.

She said that the repeated curbs in Indore's markets, due to the pandemic, had left the fruit and vegetable sellers penniless.

Reportedly, Ansari said: "At times, one side of the market is closed, the second one is shut by the administration; and there are hardly any buyers. What are we supposed to feed our families. I am selling fruits and vegetables here. People standing here are my family and friends. There are more than 20 members in the family. How will they survive? How they will earn? There is no rush on the stall but still, these officials keep telling us to run away," she says.

Replying to tweet, @Priti101090 posted: “Nowadays uneducated people are in politics, and educated people are selling fruits and vegetables, this is the system of our country that's why our country is facing financial crisis.”

Tweep @vijay2977 posted: “Definitely hurtful seeing someone who is not able to earn a daily wage due to COVID-19. It’s easy to push politics, religion and caste as issues. But, the bottom-line is there are many who fall in this category, educated, but no job - how can you make Bharat #atmanirbharbarat (self-sufficient) then?”

When asked why she didn't opt for a better job, she alleged: “The first question is: who will give the job to me?... Because my name is Raeesa Ansari, no college or research institution is willing to give me a job."

Reportedly, while speaking to news reporters, the woman revealed that she had been awarded a PhD only in 2011, after registering for it in the year 2004. Later, she had been offered an opportunity to join a research project in Belgium, at a time while she was doing research at in Kolkata, on the CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) fellowship.

Talking about receiving the offer letter from Belgium, Raisa said, "My seniors from the university were working at a research project in Belgium. The research head of the project in Belgium gave me permission to join, and had sent the offer letter here. To get there, the consent of my PhD guide was necessary but he refused to sign the consent form. When the opportunity of Belgium fell out of my hands, I was very upset and I came back from Kolkata."

After Raisa's story went viral on social media, the Head of the School of Physics at Devi Ahilya University and former in-charge Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ashutosh Mishra, reportedly said: "I remember Raisa's PhD degree was not released, and Raisa also complained of not being able to give the viva for two years despite the submission of her thesis.”

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Apparently, it was her family circumstances that made the woman give up her job at a local engineering college, and join her family business of selling fruits and vegetables.