Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Indian government suspects Viswanathan Anand's nationality: Indian Chess Grand Master refuses honorary doctorate by University of Hyderabad

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 24: Irked by a callous bureaucratic poser on whether he was Indian or not, the world chess champion Viswanathan Anand on Tuesday refused the degree of doctor of philosophy (honoris causa) offered by University of Hyderabad.
"I am in Hyderabad to play against the mathematicians and to enjoy the Mathematical Congress. Let's leave it at that."
Ever the gentleman, he merely said, “I am in Hyderabad to play against the mathematicians and to enjoy the Mathematical Congress. Let's leave it at that."
But it was quite evident that Anand was hurt by the way the Union ministry of human resources development questioned his nationality, forgetting how he did the country proud many a time. The doctorate was scheduled to be awarded on Tuesday night at the International Congress of Mathematicians, but the event had to be postponed following the controversy.
Though the union HRD minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, tried to make amends by telephoning Anand and requesting him to accept the doctorate, the Indian Grandmaster was not in the mood to receive the honour on Tuesday night.
“Anand has done India proud and we should be proud of those who climb the heights of global excellence,” Mr Sibal said, in an obvious attempt at damage control. Sources said the chess champ may decide on a future date to accept the award.
The University of Hyderabad had sent a proposal to the Union HRD ministry on August 18 seeking clearance for the award of a honorary doctorate to the World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand, along with renowned mathematician, Mr David Mumford, of Harvard University.But officials in the human resources development ministry kept the file pending wondering whether the Grandmaster was an Indian or Spanish national. The World Champion has been staying in Spain for the past six years but continues to hold the Indian citizenship.
"I have always played under the Indian flag," said Anand, before taking up a chess game simultaneously with 40 mathematicians from around the world.
“I hold an Indian passport right from the time I took my first overseas trip. I do not understand the issue.” Since the University of Hyderabad is a Central varsity, it needs prior clearance from the Union HRD ministry to award honorary doctorates.
Dr Rajat Tandon, who heads the department of mathematics in the University of Hyderabad, said he
was embarrassed at the way the HRD officials had treated Anand.It may be difficult for the university to award the honorary doctorate in the next six months as it will not be easy to find a date convenient to both Anand, who stays in Spain, and Dr Mumford, who is from the US.
"The university is now looking for a convenient date to honour Anand and Mumford," Dr Tandon said.

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