Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Viswanathan Anand is an Indian: HRD ministry makes deliberate attempts to deny honoris causa to Indian grand master

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 24: The Union HRD Ministry's questioning of world chess champion Viswanathan Anand's citizenship is a deliberate attempt to deny the doctor of philosophy degree (honoris causa) by the
University of Hyderabad to the Indian grand master.
There's no rule that only Indian nationals should be awarded honorary doctorates by Indian universities. The University of Hyderabad has sent Anand's name  along with that of Prof David Mumford of Harvard University for the honorary degree.  While Prof David's name was cleared without raising an eyebrow, the file relating to Anand was held up on the suspicion whether he is an Indian citizen.
Viswanathan Anand continues to be an Indian citizen even though he has been living in  Spain for about six years. He holds the Indian passport and at best can be described as a  non-resident Indian (NRI). But questioning his nationality is not only an insult but also  can be construed to be a clever ploy by some officials to deny him the coveted award.
"Even if Anand is a foreign national he is eligible for the doctorate degree. The same HRD ministry has cleared the name of David Mumford of Harvard University for the award. Prof David is an American citizen. When Prof David is eligible why Anand's file should be kept pending. This clearly shows that it was a deliberate act on the part of some officials in the ministry," said senior scientist and researcher Dr MN Khaja.
The HRD ministry had enough time to verify the citizenship details of Anand. The University sent the file to the ministry earlier this year. It has also followed up the issue several times, the last being on August 18, a day before the International Congress of Mathematicians bagan in Hyderabad. The University of Hyderabad, which is the local organiser of the mathematical event, proposed to award the doctorates to Anand and Prof David during the event, which is scheduled to conclude on August 29.
BJP State president G Kishan Reddy demanded an inquiry into the serious bureaucratic lapse and penal action against the officials involved. "The Prime Minister should intervene and clear the mess that the HRD Ministry is in now. The Centre should apologise to Anand," he said.
Incidentally, in 2003 Anand has been conferred the Jameo de Oro, Spain's highest civilian award given to a foreigner. While Spain recognised the Indian grand master's contribution to chess, the Indian government is embroilled in a controversy whether he is a citizen of India.

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