INDIAN NATIONAL STATURE: SHAKE THEM OFF – from the apathy of international disrepute ?!!

Hyderabad: World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand makes a move during a simultaneous chess game with 40 mathematicians at the ongoing International Congress of Mathematicians 2010, in Hyderabad on Tuesday - swift India, an unheard of phenomenon here ?!! (PTI Photo)


Viswanathan Anand has said that he wants his country back.

But why should the question of what his country happens to be matter at all to awarding him an honorary doctorate by a university in India or anywhere else in the world?

Also, why should such an academic decision be overseen by the State?

These are questions that ought to be raised within any modern and mature democracy, especially by institutions upholding intellectual excellence and freedom.

The process by which the Union ministry of human resource development stalled the Central University of Hyderabad’s awarding of a doctorate to the grandmaster reveals the perils of being a ‘Central’ institution in India, where bureaucracy exerts, and is allowed to exert, a ridiculous degree of authority in areas that should be entirely free from it.

The proposal to honour him had been made about a year ago by the executive organizing committee of the International Congress of Mathematicians. It was enthusiastically supported by the University of Hyderabad, and Mr Anand had also agreed to accept the degree.

The matter should have ended there. Instead, it had to be passed from the vice-chancellor of the university to its executive committee, and then to the chancellor, after which it was forwarded to the HRD ministry, which questioned Mr Anand’s nationality (since he lived in Spain) and demanded the involvement of the ministry of external affairs. Each stage of clearance took three to six months.

Meanwhile, the situation had become more complicated because the university also wanted to honour another distinguished American mathematician together with Mr Anand. So, the HRD ministry began looking at the situation as one involving ‘foreigners’, and therefore requiring a specially vengeful tightening of bureaucratic screws.

Endless red tape and paperwork followed, expectedly of an unsavoury kind, simply to establish that Mr Anand was an Indian citizen. Eventually, the ministry has managed to defer the clearance so indefinitely that the awarding of the degree has been shelved by the university and the congress.

Just as the State should get out of its habit of meddling in these matters, institutions like universities, however ‘Central’ they happen to be, should also get out of their ingrained habits of obedience and subservience to such regimes of interference and control.

Only then would such embarrassments be avoided.

Sibal to Anand: I apologise – not many have the guts to be upfront & forthright ?!!

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal - apologizes immediately for all bureaucrats, India Wins ?!!

From The Statesman

NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD, 24 AUG 2010: The Union human resource development minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, today apologised to Vishwanathan Anand over a controversy on conferring an honorary doctorate on him, making it clear his nationality had never been questioned. Anand has now agreed to accept the honour, Mr Sibal claimed.

In the wake of media reports that Anand had been denied the honour proposed by the University of Hyderabad after the HRD ministry raised questions about his nationality, Mr Sibal spoke to him by telephone, expressing regrets. “I told him the degree could be given today itself. He indicated to me he had some problems if the ceremony took place this evening. Then I told him any date of his convenience was okay. He has accepted it,” he told a hurriedly convened Press conference.

Replying to questions on reports his ministry had raised doubts about the nationality of Anand, who has made Spain his second home for some years now but holds an Indian passport, he said: “There is no question, there is no issue. There is no (doubting the) nationality (of Anand).”

He said he had cleared the relevant file on 22 May but there were five other names. “It came back to me with a reference to an individual. Then the university event was over. This issue arose when another file came regarding a foreigner. If I had known I would have put my foot down. We have dealt with the matter as expeditiously as possible. It is for Anand to decide. He will be given the doctorate. He has accepted it,” Mr Sibal said, adding: “It should not take time (to implement such decisions) but sometimes it happens.”

The International Congress of Mathematicians expressed sadness today over not being able to honour Anand because of “insensitive bureaucratic obstructions.” The ICM executive committee has apologised to Anand, its chairman, Mr M S Raghunathan, and its secretary, Mr Rajat Tandon, said in a statement. The idea of conferring an honorary doctorate was mooted as early as October 2009. The UoH did all the necessary work before submitting it to the HRD ministry, they said. Despite follow-up action, the ministry did not forward the proposal for the President of India’s approval.
39 out of 40.

Unfazed by the controversy, Anand today defeated 39 opponents in a game of simultaneous chess in the International Congress of Mathematicians.


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