Monday, February 8, 2016

Giving Honorary Degree

To whom should AMU give honorary degrees?

Alig are mulling over this question. The starting salvo has the following assertion:
Earlier Honoris causa were awarded to persons of eminence like C.V. Raman, Shah of Iran, King Saud, Obaid Siddiqi, but now it is being awarded to Nouveau riche whose only claim to fame is that they donated a piece of land or some money. What a downfall.
If university decide to honor people like Narayanmurthy, Harsh Mander, Teesta Setalvad, Salman Khan (USA) of online tutorial fame, Sania Mirza, Raghuram Rajan, Sam Pitroda, Mukesh Ambani then it will enhance the prestige of AMU also.
I am puzzled at these views.

What was so praiseworthy with Shah of Iran? Or King Saud? Unless these are used to balance against each other. Somehow some sort of colonial mindset dominates Aligarh thinking even today to pathetic levels. AMU is a university and its prime concern must remain academics. It is not the Caliphate of Aligarh to think in terms of Shahs and Kings. Even Governors and Chief Ministers should never feature in our list of honorary degrees, unless these have made their mark in some other field that is worth recognizing by us. In this regard a few honorary degrees dished out by Mahmoodur Rahman regime were the most pathetic ones.

Then again why Mukesh Ambani? Of course if he is desirous of building bridges with the huge minority community of India by donating funds to our university I am not the one to withdraw my hand. I shall not bother about those who do bickering about degrees for sale and the like.

But why Sania Mirza? May be to inspire girl athletes of AMU. I am sorry they already remain inspired by Sania. I am not going to waste my precious honorary degree on her. Sorry to be in-your-face-pragmatic.

AMU is a precious resource that Muslims of India have with them. It must be used judiciously. The writer of above remarks is certainly concerned with a fruitful utilization of this blessing of God. I do not doubt that even for a moment. But I am not convinced by the overall wisdom of his choice. In last seven decades, of independent India, Muslims have shown a singular lack of an accurate understanding of the ground reality and hence they have not taken steps to remedy their miserable state. Aligarh, being an intellectual hub of Indian Muslims, should have been a better place in this regard. unfortunately that is not true.

AMU should have been a place, from day one after Independence, to make an accurate assessment of overall political, economic, social, cultural, business, industrial and scientific and technological state of the country. we should also have taken requisite steps to improve the lot of Indian Muslims in all of these fields so that we would have been contributing to the nation building at something like equal level. Here I must clarify that this includes the possibility that we should have by now achieved equity with the rest of the country.

Identifying suitable honorary degree candidates is merely a cog in that wheel.

Unfortunately we simply do not think in a comprehensive manner.