Senate approves literature degree for Sudha Murty

Naina Mishra

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21

The PU Senate today approved conferring the Honoris Causa (DLitt) to Dr Sudha N Murty, Trustee, Infosys Foundation, Bangalore, despite dissent from two Senators — Prof Chaman Lal and Prof Shelley Walia.

The approval comes after a Syndicate meeting was convened earlier today in which it was unanimously approved that the Honoris Causa degree will be conferred on Murty and the Vigyan Rattan will be given to Dr K Sivan, chairman, ISRO, and Secretary, Department of Space, Bangalore.

The discussion lasted for more than 20 minutes with arguments pouring in from all sides against the conferment of Honoris Causa (DLitt) to Murty. The contention of the argument from the two Senators was that honouring Murty would be “nothing but a favour to corporate personalities of India”.

Chaman Lal read out views on behalf of Prof Shelley Walia, who was not present. According to Walia, any selections made for the prestigious Honoris Causa must go through a rigorous screening for personalities of eminence, which “did not” happen in this case.

‘No prestigious award’

“She (Murty) has received no award from prestigious literary bodies such as ‘Sahitya Akademi’ or ‘Gyan peeth’. No wonder, she is a humanist and social worker but it important to see how much she has achieved in the field of literature,” said Chaman Lal on behalf of Walia.

He added: “Attention needs to be given to the history of the award and in no way should we hurriedly come to a decision which might later cause any embarrassment to the university. Experts from various relevant disciplines must be consulted before any final proposal is sent to the Syndicate and the Senate for their approval of awards of Honoris Causa.”

According to regulation 20 (d) Page 32 of the PU Calendar Volume 1: “A proposal for conferment of the honorary degree shall be put to vote without discussion and the vote should be by ballot.” Prof Chaman Lal also demanded ballot (secret voting) during the Senate meeting, however, the same was overruled was the VC.

‘Maintain person’s dignity’

However, Senator Ashok Goyal said: “While intending to honour somebody, we must make sure that the person in question is not dishonoured instead. As per the provisions of the PU Calendar, a discussion is not allowed.”

Goyal asked the VC to defend the decision of the Syndicate and elucidate the members about the issue. “Either the VC should explain who suggested convening the special meeting or was it his proposal? Some damage was done by our members who reached out to media for the agenda item. No discussion should have been allowed,” said Goyal.

On April 10, it was decided in a Syndicate meeting that the two personalities will be honoured. Reportedly, there were some discrepancies in the decision — no recommendation from the VC for the conferment of the degree on Murthy and the degree suggested for Murthy being the Doctorate of Law (LLD).

Earlier, the Senate meeting was scheduled for April 29 and the convocation was scheduled for April 28. It was discussed during the April 10 meeting that it was imperative to take the matter to the Senate before the convocation.

A special meeting of the Senate was thus called on Sunday, preceded by a Syndicate meeting, so as to rectify the degree for Murty from LLD to DLitt and get approval from the VC. According to the provisions, recommendation from the Vice-Chancellor, two third members of the Syndicate and two third members of the Senate present in a meeting and final nod by the VC is required before a degree can be given.

Two Senators oppose

Prof Chaman Lal and Prof Shelley Walia opposed the decision taken by the Senate. Chaman Lal read out views on behalf of Prof Shelley Walia, who was not present. According to Walia, any selections made for the prestigious Honoris Causa must go through a rigorous screening for personalities of eminence, which "did not" happen in this case.

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