Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa’s famous seat of higher education, Ravenshaw College, after metamorphosing into an University, Ravenshaw Uinversity (RU), is under pressure to award honorary doctorate degrees to two non-Oriyas;one, a lawyer from Delhi and the other, a singer from Mumbai.

It is learned that Sri Rameswar Thakur, who being the Governor of Orissa is the Chancellor of RU, is putting the pressure and its Vice-Chancellor Devdas Chhotray as well as the members of its Executive Council (EC) have agreed.

Many a persons suffering from recognition crisis run after various awards from government and private organizations and use them to overcome their inherent inferiority complex by displaying them in their home parlors. It is a kind of mental disease. And the peoples afflicted with this disease are so eager to receive an award that they often prefer the award to the dignity of office they hold. An eminent sitting judge has recently received an award from a dubious organization run by a corrupt engineer that was recently in news for attempted misappropriation of a literary property of Orissa Sahitya Akademi over and above its controversial occupation of an archaeologically sensitive public land. This organization was to gain by giving the award to the judge. But what was the gain the judge got by getting the award? Mental satisfaction, a memento for his drawing room and a few media headlines.

In private sector, there are organizations that charge money for giving such awards. They use a small portion of the money they charge for organizing a function for the award where guests attend on payment of mutually agreed to amount of clandestine fees, get cameramen to capture the event and also ensure media publicity that the recipient in his or her way uses to convince others of authenticity of the award.

We have in these pages shown how the recipients often organize the Padma group of awards of Indian Government in their favor through their lobbyists.

The State Government awards are so vitiated with nepotism, favoritism and palm-greasing that the lists of awardees announced by Orissa’s Sahitya Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi etc are subjected to litigations by unsuccessful aspirants!

In such an environment, Universities are increasingly being looked upon as safe grazing grounds for award mongers.

It is easy to bag honorary doctorate degrees by using the office of the Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor, if the later has good rapport with members of the syndicate or the EC.

The honorary doctorate degrees were conceived to recognize academic contributions made by someone belonging to the area where the university stands, if that one person has no qualifying academic education to obtain a formal doctorate through examination. They were also placed by the conceivers on the pivot of assumed courtesy that the recipients of honorary doctorates would never use the same as their epithet in order not to affect the distinction bestowed upon academicians with doctoral degrees at the summit of the rigors of research they conduct on specific areas of knowledge.

But the expected courtesy, which should have been irrevocably customary, is always killed in the labyrinth of personal ambition and showiness of the recipients who never hesitate to use the honorary doctorate as their legitimate epithet. As for example, Dr. Harekrushna Mahtab, Dr. Radhanath Rath, Dr. Achuta Samanta, Dr. Tirupati Panigrahi of Orissa etc and etc.

All these fellows could bag the honorary doctorates under the grace of Chancellors of the concerned Universities.

The RU is going to be added to the list of breeding grounds of honorary doctoral degrees for award mongers supposedly in the good books of Orissa Governor.

If such dishonest use of academic privileges should stop, in our opinion, the breeding of honorary doctorate degrees should be stopped.

The fellows, who having bagged such degrees are in habit of use thereof as their epithets, notwithstanding where from they have bagged them, should be debarred legally to use “Dr.” before their name in order to legally protect the sanctity of academic achievement in the State.

And if at all the idea originally emphasized by the conceivers of Honoris Causa to honor the academic contributions of non-academics in the command-area of an University through honorary doctorates, prompts the public sector RU to offer such degrees to someone, then the recipient or recipients be strictly of Orissa soil, never an outsider like the Delhi lawyer or Mumbai singer.

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