Snubbed by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) last September, the Dalai Lama is likely to soon earn his second honorary doctorate in less than four months from a central varsity as New Delhi tries to make amends.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University plans to award an honorary doctorate to the Dalai Lama, barely four months after the MEA blocked an honorary doctorate to the Tibetan spiritual leader, top government sources have told HT.
Officials hinted that the move is a part of a "subtle but definite" government attempt at healing wounds it earned for blocking the honorary doctorate proposed by Jamia Millia Islamia because of Chinese sensitivities, reported first by HT on October 22, 2010.
Stung by the criticism it received for blocking the award to the Nobel laureate, the MEA recanted and approved the award to the Dalai Lama.
But top government sources - who said that unlike the previous occasion, the MEA and all other top government offices were almost certain to approve the award - conceded that the 2010 incident had hurt India's image.
"It is a fact that the incident conveyed incorrect perceptions about India - suggesting perhaps that we are willing to snub the Dalai Lama because of Chinese concerns. This is not true, and we must correct any inaccurate perceptions," an official said.
The IGNOU convocation is scheduled for April 2, but it is unclear whether the Dalai Lama will be awarded separately or at the convocation. The university is also proposing to award an honorary doctorate to justice VR Krishna Iyer, former Supreme Court judge, eminent jurist and a minister in the first communist government in India.
Iyer, a minister in the EMS Namboodaripad Cabinet in Kerala between 1957 and 1959, and the Dalai Lama, a hate figure for the Communist regime in China, are likely to receive their honorary doctorates together.