Noida- The ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has denied a request from Jamia Millia Islamia University to award an honorary doctorate to one of the leading bollywod actors and also an alumnus of JMI Shah Rukh Khan. The HRD Ministry denied the request by saying that it would not be in order as he had already honored with a similar degree from the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU). The ministry has also said there is no official bar on such a practice.
A few media house has found the information through the Right To Information (RTI) act. Jamia Millia Islamia University has requested the government 3 months before regarding awarding the honorary doctorate. Higher Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam acknowledged that there were “no rules issued by UGC regarding this so far”. He also said that “it could have been the case that one institution did not know what the other was doing. As a matter of policy, we discourage such things”. Earlier, a number of Universities has asked to grant permission for the similar honor to many other known personalities in India.
The fact is Mr Shah Rukh Khan was a master’s student of AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia University from 1988-90, but was not allowed to appear for his final year exams due to shortage of attendance. Earlier, the University has wrote to SRK on 30 January 2018 that that he was the “most prestigious alumnus” of the university and that they wished to confer him with an “Honoris Causa” (honorary doctorate) to “strengthen ties”. Khan’s consent was received via an email dated February 17, 2018, in which one of his assistant’s said “it will be an honor to accept this”. Since then, the University was waiting for the approval from HRD Ministry.
In its official response to an RTI query, Jamia stated: “JMI wrote to HRD for conferring Honoris Causa to Mr Shahrukh Khan. The MHRD does not agree to confer Honoris Causa to Shahrukh Khan as MANUU has already conferred the Honoris Causa to him in 2016.” It stated that “Mr Shahrukh Khan agreed to accept the honor”. The RTI record shows that the letter to the Higher Education Secretary was sent on21 February 2018, by A P Siddiqui, Registrar at Jamia. “In recognition of Khan’s services rendered to Indian Cinema and as brand ambassador of the Indian culture, the Jamia Millia Islamia University has decided to confer honorary degree (Honoris Causa) as a fitting tribute to his remarkable contribution in the diverse field of Indian Film and Culture. Consent of Mr Shahrukh Khan has also been received and enclosed. Submitted for necessary approval and further action, please,” it read. In reply to the same, HRD Ministry Under Secretary P K Singh wrote a letter to the University on 26 February by asking the university to “clarify” whether “the approval of Competent Authority of University has been taken”. He did not, at this stage, deny Jamia’s request.
Thereafter, the university conveyed a letter to the HRD Ministry saying that the university approved the proposal of conferring Khan with the award. However, RTI records show that P K Singh has sent another letter to Jamia, on 11 April, denying the request. “It has been observed that Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad has already conferred honorary degree to Shri Shahrukh Khan in December 2016. so that, a view has been taken that 2 doctorate degrees for the same person cannot not be in order.
Higher Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam said “Whenever there is a recommendation of the Executive Committee seeking approval for awarding an honorary doctorate, we check whether the same person has been awarded the same honour by another central university; and whether there is any conflict of interest. In case of Shah Rukh Khan, his exceptional services in the field of acting have already been recognised by another Central Univ MANUU, Hyderabad by conferring the honorary doctorate with the approval of Hon President of India and MHRD.” He also claimed that “since 2014, there has not been any instance where the same person has been awarded honorary doctorate in more than one central university”.