INDIAN IDENTITY CRISIS: Anand, prove you’re Indian

INDIAN IDENTITY CRISIS: Anand, prove you’re Indian – no mixup, purely desi … Disgusting Citizenship … please pass a bill in the Parliament ?!! …. and while you’re at it, also ‘statehood’ for the Indian Gorkhas here for centuries ?!!

Anand Viswanathan Passport - not a citizenship to be proud of anymore ?!!


Aug. 23: The bureaucracy has stalled an attempt by the University of Hyderabad to confer an honorary degree on chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand while he is in the southern city to attend the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM).

The Union human resource development ministry raised questions about Anand’s citizenship and failed to process documents that would have allowed the university to hand over to Anand an honorary doctoral degree today as planned, sources at the university and the ICM said.

“This is terribly embarrassing for us — we had requested Anand to arrive in Hyderabad a day in advance of his ICM engagement so we could have the convocation today,” Rajat Tandon, the head of the university’s department of mathematics, told The Telegraph.

Anand is a special guest at the ICM, a quadrennial mammoth math event, where he will play chess simultaneously against 40 mathematicians on Tuesday. Today, instead of receiving the degree, he spent a part of the afternoon chatting with mathematicians over lunch.

The university’s executive committee had several months ago approved proposals to confer honorary doctoral degrees on Anand and a senior American mathematician, David Mumford, university officials said.

The university had forwarded the proposal to the HRD ministry by mid-July. It received a response claiming, mistakenly, that since Anand — who lives in Spain — is a foreigner, the proposal would also have to be processed by the external affairs ministry.

“We were shocked that someone had raised this issue — we always think of Anand as an Indian,” Tandon said. “We contacted Aruna (Anand’s wife), and she sent us a copy of his Indian passport,” he said.

In her email to ICM organisers, Aruna wrote: “I do not understand from where the confusion on Anand’s citizenship comes from. Anand is and has always been a citizen of India.”

University sources said all relevant documents were forwarded to the ministry, which was expected to approve them and send them to President Pratibha Patil, who holds the official title of Visitor at the University of Hyderabad, a central university.

However, even on August 18, on the eve of the ICM, the university had received no final approval. A senior HRD ministry official today declined to comment.

“We tried again over the weekend through phone calls — but it obviously didn’t work out,” said Madabusi Raghunathan, a senior mathematician at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and chairman of the executive organising committee of the ICM 2010. “Mumford is leaving tonight and Anand has this game tomorrow.”

Raghunathan, who was among the mathematicians who had lunch with Anand today, said the grandmaster was “very gracious and said he understood our problem”.

Raghunathan said he has not himself directly been in touch with HRD, but the information he has received from his colleagues who have been corresponding with the ministry suggests to him that there was something “mischievous” about the ministry’s actions.

“This university has never given an honorary degree to a politician. We give degrees only for academics and intellectual activity. We believe Anand deserves this because chess is a game of the mind,” said Tirumalasetty Amaranath, dean of the university’s school of mathematics and computer and information sciences.

“Mumford is a top mathematician with strong Indian connections. He has nurtured many young Indian mathematicians.”

Mumford is an emeritus professor of mathematics at Brown University in the US and hailed for, besides his academic achievements, his long and deep connections with India. He had spent two academic years at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1968 and 1969 during which he nurtured young mathematicians.

“India has been a huge part of my life and has made it richer and more exciting in countless ways,” Mumford, who has an adopted Indian daughter, wrote in a paper describing personal memories of his repeated visits to India, published in a journal Hyderabad Intelligencer, circulated to ICM delegates here.


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