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Sorry, Sibal tells Anand

HYDERABAD. 22/08/2010:- HYDERABAD 24/08/2010:-Unfazed by the controversy surrounding his nationality , World chess Champion Viswanathan Anand chess wizard enthusiastically walked into the huge hall at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre to take on simultaneously on 40 mathematicians from across the globe in a game of chess event is part of the International Congress of Mathematicians at Hyderabad on Tuesday. Photo : Mohammed_Yousuf   | Photo Credit: Mohammed_Yousuf

Citing “procedural errors” as the reason for the delay in clearing conferment of an honorary doctorate on Vishwanathan Anand, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday apologised to the world chess champion, saying the Ministry had never questioned his nationality.

“Mr. Anand has agreed to accept the degree at a date convenient to him,'' Mr. Sibal told reporters. The degree could have been conferred on Tuesday evening itself but for Mr. Anand's prior commitments, he said.The controversy started after the Ministry reportedly raised queries over Mr. Anand's nationality on a proposal of the University of Hyderabad to confer on him a doctorate of honoris causa at a special convocation on August 22, coinciding with the International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad.

Mr. Anand has been living in Spain for some years now, but holds an Indian passport issued by the Indian embassy in Madrid.

According to Mr. Sibal, he cleared Mr. Anand's file on May 22, but there were five others, who were also to be honoured, and in this regard there were queries from the Visitor about an individual. By the time the issues were resolved, the regular convocation was over. The second time the file came, there were some queries regarding a foreigner's name who was being conferred a degree that needed political clearance, but no query regarding Mr. Anand's name.

Mr. Sibal said: “We have dealt with the matter as expeditiously as possible, though there were some errors on our side also. It is for Anand to decide. He will be conferred the doctorate. He has accepted it.

“Procedural errors led to problems. Immediate corrective action was taken. I told him that we are sorry for what has transpired.

“It should not take time [to implement such decisions], but sometime it happens.

“Vishwanathan Anand has done India proud, like Arjun Atwal [who won a top professional golf championship in the U.S. on Monday]. We should be proud of those who climb the heights of global excellence and keep the Indian flag flying.”

Mr. Sibal admitted that the procedures need to be streamlined and universities would now be told to send all documents along with the names to the Ministry so that there were no delays.

Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad Seyed E. Hasnain met Mr Sibal on Tuesday to sort out the issue. “There was a system failure but things have been sorted out and he will be given the degree,” he told TheHindu.

While it was a matter of relief for the government that the issue was resolved, it is learnt that the delay was caused as the university did not convey the date of the special convocation (August 23) to the Ministry. On its part, the Ministry had raised queries over Mr. Anand's nationality, following “rumours” that he had taken up Spanish citizenship.

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