A young teenager from Maharashtra left everyone in bewilderment after she claimed to have been selected for some coveted NASA program. The news was first published by ANI after which scores of media houses reported Diksha Shinde’s selection as a panelist on the Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowships Virtual Panel of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
However, soon after the news broke out, netizens began to cast aspersions on her claim and even her academic background. To put an end to the controversy, OpIndia wrote to the relevant authority at NASA to seek clarity.
It turns out, while Shinde was selected as a panelist, her selection was based on false information regarding her background and credentials provided by her. The organization is now in the process of verifying the background of all potential panelists. “The matter has also been referred to the agency’s Office of Inspector General,” reads the response.
Busting claims of her employment and fellowship, NASA clarified that Shinde ‘has not been employed by NASA nor has the agency awarded her a fellowship, which are only opportunities available to U.S. citizens.’
Puncturing yet another ‘achievement’ of the teenage girl, the agency revealed that they have not accepted any scientific paper from Shinde nor has NASA presented any other accolades to the girl.
OpIndia seeking clarity on the matter had written to NASA specifically asking about Shinde’s claim of being selected for any fellowship, submitting research papers and being employed by NASA to review research papers.
“I accepted the offer and will start working soon. My job involves reviewing proposals submitted by researchers and describing a collaborative approach to conduct research with NASA and understanding the connection between proposed research area and academic discipline pursuit of the students,” was Shinde’s claim on being offered a job by the agency.
We reported earlier on how Shinde’s claim did not match the information available on NASA’s official website. Shinde had also circulated a false certificate allegedly awarded to her by the CEO of NASA.
Not just this, Shinde who supposedly is a class 10 student has a LinkedIn account named Dr. Diksha K Shinde with “Scientific Researcher at NASA” as her designation.
OpIndia reached out to NASA with further questions on the selection process. We asked:
- What action is NASA planning to take against the errant employees who are responsible for the gaffe?
- Was it genuine incompetence or mistake on the part of the employees or was there an agenda behind it?
- How long is the investigation by the Office of Inspector General expected to last? When can a final report be expected?
- Is NASA planning to take action against Shinde’s guardians for submitting false information in order to take advantage of the brand value?
- What was the false information regarding her background and credentials that was provided?
- Who provided this information?
However, NASA said that they do not wish to add anything more than the formal statement.
With NASA clarifying its stance on the controversy, it is still not clear whether the teenager has been conned by someone claiming to be from NASA or if it is a plain case of fraud.