World chess champion Viswanathan Anand has refused to accept the honorary doctorate, which was to have been conferred on him by the University of Hyderabad (UoH) at a special convocation at the ongoing International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) 2010 here on Tuesday.
“There is no way he is going to take the award now and during this congress,” Mr. Anand's agent, Abraham Kuruvilla, told reporters soon after the ICM's executive organising committee (EOC) and UoH, a central university, issued a strongly-worded statement, criticising the “insensitive bureaucratic obstructions.”
EOC secretary Rajat Tandon said all arrangements were made for conferring the doctorate, but “Mr. Anand has changed his mind and he doesn't want any controversy.”
Hopes of Mr. Anand accepting the doctorate were rekindled after Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal spoke to him over telephone and apologised, but they turned short-lived when EOC chairman M.S. Raghunathan declared that the Grand Master would not be conferred the doctorate “at least in this edition of the ICM.''
In a statement, the EOC and the UoH expressed “sadness” over the fact that the special convocation to confer an honorary doctorate on “one of our greatest sports personalities'' Viswanathan Anand could not be held because of “insensitive bureaucratic obstructions.” The EOC said it was deeply saddened by the “unfortunate turn of events” and conveyed its deep apology.
Mr. Anand, who flew in here on Sunday in anticipation that the event would go off smoothly, appeared a little hurt over the developments questioning his nationality. “I have always played under the Indian flag, held an Indian passport, right from the time I took my first overseas trip. I do not understand the issue. I am here to play against the mathematicians and to enjoy the Congress. So let us leave it at that,” the statement quoted him as saying.
The Grand Master, however, was engaged in a more than three-hour contest with 40 mathematicians. He was his usual self during a question-and-answer session with them. He lauded 10 opponents who held on tenaciously till the last moment.
The idea of conferring the doctorate was mooted as early as October 2009. The UoH enthusiastically took up the proposal, did the necessary background work and submitted it for clearance to the Human Resource Development Ministry. Despite repeated follow-ups by it, the Ministry did not forward the proposal to the President, who is also the Visitor of the university.