The lure of doctorates has many Indians eating out of the hand of a Colombo-based unrecognised university, ignoring a decade-old alert from the University Grants Commission.
After a Lucknow-based scientist SK Jain sounded an alert, India’s University Grants Commission issued a circular in 2000 to all universities and national institutes, including the Indian Institutes of Technology, to not recognise any academic distinctions awarded by The Open International University for Complementary Medicines since they were not valid in Sri Lanka where it is located.
Recently, The Open International University for Complementary Medicines conferred ‘Doctor of Honours (Industries) on GP Patel, the managing director of Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd — a state government-owned hydro power corporation.
The award to Patel also underlines a curious incongruity because the university, which claims to work in the field of preventive medicine, conferred doctorate on Patel for excellence in engineering sector.
GP Patel told Hindustan Times, “All I know is that the university has international recognition. I was selected (for doctorate) on the basis of my past works”.
The university had also conferred doctorate (honours) on former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank during his tenure in 2010. The Opposition had then questioned the credibility of the degree.
Art of Living fame Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, too, was awarded a doctorate by the university in 2006.
The Sri Lanka government and its University Grants Commission told Hindustan Times the university was not recognised.
“No such Open International University of Complementary Medicines (is) registered with the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka,” wrote Kapila Fonseka, an official in the High Commission of Sri Lanka, in an email reply to Hindustan Times.
In a separate mail, Sri Lankan University Grants Commission also replied on similar lines.
The university has not replied to this correspondent’s email requesting them to share their status.
The website of the university claims it works closely with the World Health Organisation.