After a brief spell of sanity under governor T.N. Chaturvedi, the business of Universities awarding honorary doctorates has now reverted to the familiar, well-trodden cycle of rewarding sychophants, chamchas, ideological blood-brothers, drinking buddies and worse.
First, the Karnatak University in Dharwad ran afoul of the secular brigade when it decided to hand a D.Litt. to the editor of Vijaya Karnataka, Vishweshwar Bhat. After Transparency International got into the act raising serious questions, Bhat withdrew citing “personal reasons”.
Now, Tumkur University has decided that the man who runs the legendary Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) restaurant, Sadanand Maiyya, deserves to have the “Dr” honorific attached to his name. For the record, Maiyya did not set up MTR, he inherited it. Although he played a key role in expanding MTR’s packaged food brands, he sold it to a Norwegian company in 2007.
Question: Doubtless, MTR is a fine restaurant and MTR products have earned the undying gratitude of homesick Kannadigas across the globe. But do Maiyya’s stellar achievements demand a doctorate? Is he the only homegrown entrepreneur who came to the University’s eye? Is running a restaurant of repute credentials enough? Is giving the doctorate to young, fresh faces a good idea or are we devaluing it beyond redemption?