It is becoming easier to get a doctorate from a University in India these days. Anyone can aspire for a doctorate these days as the standards are falling.

Now that doctorates are essential for promotions in colleges, doctorates are being awarded by the universities at unprecedented rates. If you look at the theses, not many merits a second look. It is no surprise that the contribution of our universities to knowledge is insignificant. India would have progressed faster if our universities were free from politics and devoted themselves to pursuit of knowledge.

However, the trend is in the opposite direction. Appointments to the universities have become political. People have also started getting doctorates on political grounds. The trend had started possibly in Tamil Nadu with M. G. Ramachandran being showered upon with honorary doctorates by universities. The Madras University has so far awarded about 400 honorary doctorates to various personalities including Sonia Gandhi.

Foreign universities are also not much behind in awarding honorary doctorates to politicians and film stars. The awardees include Karnataka Minister B S Yeddyurappa (Saginaw Valley State University of Michigan) and actors Akshay Kumar (University of Windsor, Canada) and Shilpa Shetty (Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom). So, one should not find fault with the University of Kerala granting a doctorate to actor and chairman of the pro-left Malayalam Communications Mammootty, before they gave anything like that to Aravindan or Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

The question is whether these doctorates bring any honour to the recipients. It definitely brings disrepute to the universities. When a university bestow a honorary degree, it should bring honour to itself.

Tailpiece: Higher ups in the army has reportedly decided to give the title of Lieutenant Colonel in the territorial army to actor Mohanlal for acting roles of army officer in two films. By that reckoning, how many actors would have to be given honorary IAS and IPS? When even officials conferred with IAS and IPS suffer a lower status, what would be the fate of honorary IAS and IPS officers? Hypothetical questions? Who knows when the private staff of the Ministers would be granted such titles? The next turn then will be that of actors.