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Sudha Murthy declines honorary D Litt from PU

The reason for Murthy’s refusal to accept the honorary degree is not clear yet.

chandigarh Updated: Apr 27, 2019 22:04 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sudha Murthy,Infosys Foundation,Panjab University
Sudha Murthy(HT File )

Author and trustee of Infosys Foundation Sudha Murthy is understood to have declined to accept the Doctorate of Literature (D Litt) from Panjab University at its upcoming annual convocation on April 28, it is reliably learnt.

Murthy, wife of Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, is currently travelling abroad and is not coming for the 68th convocation where Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also chancellor of the university, is the chief guest, sources in PU and in Murthy’s office told HT on Friday, while requesting anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media. Murthy could not be reached out for her comment.

The reason for Murthy’s refusal to accept the honorary degree is not clear yet.

A PU committee had recommended names of Sudha Murthy and Dr K Sivan, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for Doctorate of Law (LLD) and for Vigyan Rattan, respectively. When the university syndicate met on April 10, questions were raised on how a person from literature can be awarded LLD.

There were also questions as to why the honoris causa (honorary degree) was not sent on the vice-chancellor’s recommendation, as per the PU Calendar. But the syndicate gave the go ahead in principle and asked to call a special senate meeting for final approval. Later, the university made amends by deciding to confer D Litt on Murthy, who is also a well-known philanthropist. It was ratified by the syndicate and senate on April 21.

Objections

Before that, Panjab University senator Chaman Lal had shot off a letter to V-C Raj Kumar on April 18, questioning the recommendation to confer the honorary D Litt on Murthy. Terming the award as “not appropriate”, he said: “In my view, no literary critic of Kannada and English, the languages she writes in, considers her a writer of any high literary quality.” He also pointed out that she had received no national literary honours such as Sahitya Akademi or Jnanpith awards… which were received by Amrita Pritam and Gurdial Singh, when they were awarded Honoris Causa degrees in literature by PU.

Senator Shelley Walia, who did not attend the meeting, had also written an email to the V-C on April 18, supporting Lal’s argument and saying that the selection of awardees should be on their “unimpeachable” contribution to their field, nationally and internationally.

Lal had also raised the issue in the April 21 senate meeting, saying that the award would look like a favour to Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, who is a big corporate and gives funds to political parties too. He had said the agenda item on the honorary degree should be decided through a ballot, but the senate did not do so.

The regulation 20 (a) of PU Calendar Volume 1 mentions that after the debate, if any, is concluded, the chairman shall put the proposal to vote. The regulation says, “A proposal for conferment of an honorary degree shall be put to vote without discussion and the vote shall be by ballot.” The V-C and registrar Karamjit Singh didn’t respond to HT’s calls and text messages for their version.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 22:03 IST