HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday apologised to chess wizard Vishwanathan Anand over the controversy about conferring an honorary doctorate to him, and made it clear that his nationality was never questioned by the ministry.
Anand has now agreed to accept the honour, Sibal said.
In the wake of media reports that Anand was denied the honour proposed by the University of Hyderabad after the HRD ministry raised questions over his nationality, Sibal spoke to the World champion over telephone and expressed regret.
"I told him that the honorary degree could be conferred today itself. He indicated to me that he had some problem about this evening. Then I told him any date of his convenience for the function was okay. He has accepted it," Sibal told a hurriedly-convened press conference in Delhi.
Replying to questions on reports that the ministry had raised doubts over the nationality of Anand, who has made Spain his second home for some years now but holds an Indian passport, he said, "There is no question, there is no issue. There is no question of nationality (about Anand)."
He said he had cleared the file on Anand's name on May 22, but there were five other names.
"When I went to the visitor it came back to me with reference to an individual. Then the university event was over. This issue arose when another file came regarding a foreigner. If I had known I would have put my foot down.
"We have dealt with the matter as expeditiously as possible. It is for Vishwanathan Anand to decide. He will be conferred the doctorate. He has accepted it," Sibal said.
"Procedural error has led to problems regarding doctorate to Anand... immediate corrective action was taken. I told him that we are sorry for what has transpired," he said.
"It should not take time (to implement such decisions) but sometime it happens," he said.
Hailing Anand for his achievements, Sibal said, "Vishwanathan Anand has done India proud like Arjun Atwal (who won a top professional golf championship in the US yesterday). We should be proud of those who climb the heights of global excellence."