A move to confer an honorary doctorate on World chess champion Vishwanathan Anand is embroiled in controversy over his citizenship, forcing him to decline the honour, at least for now.
After the Union Human Resource Development Ministry raised doubts over the nationality of Anand, who holds an Indian passport but lives in Spain, the University of Hyderabad had to delay a function to confer the honour on him.
With his ministry's name figuring in the controversy, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal spoke to Anand and is understood to have urged him to accept the award.
But after media reported the delay, the University of Hyderabad on Tuesday decided to present the doctorate to Anand at a function tonight.
"We are ready to award the honorary doctorate to Anand. The doctorate has only been delayed and not denied as the HRD Ministry has raised doubts over the chess champion's nationality," Head of Mathematics Department in the University Rajat Tandon said.
"We learnt somewhere in July this year that the HRD Ministry is suspecting Anand's nationality. We sent several clarifications to them but still they have not cleared the file related to the award of honorary doctorate," he said.
Coinciding with the International Conference on Maths currently on in Hyderabad, the University was planning to honour Anand along with Harvard University mathematician David Mumford.
In the wake of the controversy, Tandon said the university had planned to hold the function to honour Anand on Tuesday night but the champion declined to accept it in view of the controversy.
Stating that they were left "extremely embarrassed" over the entire issue, Tandon, also the organizing secretary of the ongoing International Congress of Mathematicians, apologised to Anand.
Earlier Tandon had said that even after a series of clarifications, including submission of his passport copy, the ministry has kept the file on hold.
"The honorary doctorate to Viswanathan Anand has not been stalled or denied. It has only been delayed. But we are extremely embarrassed over this," he had said.
A top official of the University had said they were puzzled by the HRD Ministry's actions.
"There had been a lot of correspondence between the University and the Ministry on the issue. In fact, Anand's wife Aruna herself faxed the copy of Anand's passport to the ministry. But, still, ministry officials are yet to respond," the official had said.
The issue was also placed before the President of India for consideration as is a Visitor of the Central University.