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HRD said no to IGNOU doctorate for Gen Kapoor

In case of any foreigner or a significant personality being considered for awarding a doctorate by a government institution,political clearance is also required.

Former Army chief General Deepak Kapoor,now in the dock over the Adarsh housing scam besides a series of other defence land scams,has been denied an honorary doctorate that a Central government-run university wanted to confer on him.

A Right to Information (RTI) application filed by The Indian Express has revealed that while the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) had submitted a proposal seeking to confer an honorary doctorate on the former Army chief,the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry in December last year shot down the proposal terming it inappropriate. The move comes even as a series of allegations have been surfacing against General Kapoor over the past few months questioning his role in the Kandivali land transfer scam,Sukna land scam and most notably in the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

As per established procedures,Central universities have to route their proposals on conferring of honorary doctorates to the HRD Ministry with complete information on the proposed candidates. In case of any foreigner or a significant personality being considered for awarding a doctorate by a government institution,political clearance is also required. Once cleared by the government,the same proposal is sent to the President — who is Visitor to all Central universities — to be signed before the varsity is deemed to have been permitted to confer the said doctorate.

While the IGNOU Vice-Chancellor had in December 2009 first formulated the proposal when Kapoor was serving as Chief of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army,this was received by the ministry in December last year.

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The RTI response received by The Indian Express reads: “A proposal was received in Distance Learning Division of this ministry on 22.12.2010 from Vice-Chancellor,IGNOU vide their letter dated 17.12.2009 for conferment of honorary doctorate (Honoris Causa) on General Deepak Kapoor,PVSM,AVSM,SM,VSH,ADL the then Chairman,Chief of Staff Committee & Chief of the Army.”

“However,the proposal was not considered appropriate” by the HRD Ministry,the response adds.

Incidentally,the IGNOU had first formulated the proposal within three months of the Indian Army signing a major MoU with the IGNOU to set up a number of ‘Indian Army-IGNOU Community Colleges’ and to confer educational certificates on Indian Army jawans under the IGNOU system. The MoU was signed in the presence of General Kapoor on September 29,2009. Barely two months later,in December 2009,the IGNOU V-C sent a proposal to the HRD Ministry to confer the honorary doctorate on General Kapoor who was still serving as Army chief at that time. He retired on March 31,2010. That the HRD Ministry also took nearly a year to decide on the fate of the proposal indicates the government’s unease over General Kapoor’s candidature.

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Officials in the HRD Ministry point out that as per norms an honorary doctorate is awarded by an educational institute to a distinguished person who has put in several years of service to a chosen field and who has generally not been in active service for a while. However,instance of serving defence chiefs or for that matter recently serving chiefs being awarded honorary doctorates are rare. Last heard,the illustrious Field Marshall S.H.F.J Manekshaw was conferred an Honoris Causa in 2004,incidentally also by the IGNOU.

First published on: 04-02-2011 at 01:44 IST
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