Let me state first that I fully admire Sania Mirza for her outstanding achievements in the field of Tennis. She has for the first time put Indian women in the top echelon of Tennis. I wish her more success in the days to come.

However, this appreciation does not deter me from saying that Dr M G R University has only devalued the concept of Honourary Doctorate Degrees. We are aware that some of the Universities have already devalued the degree by giving it to undeserving politicians. Now a new low has been hit by Dr M G R University in creating a Dr Sania Mirza.

My view is that excellence is sports is recognized by various awards such as the Arjun Award, Padmashri etc. Academic institutions should restrict their awards to academic contributions even in the field of Sports.  For example, I donot mind an honourary degree for say Vishwanathan Anand who has introduced a new Chess theory (Watch his recent victories without traditional castling) or say Harsha Bhogle for introducing a new concept of Cricket Journalism or even those who have invented a software for analysing Cricket play etc. It could even be for persons like Waquar Younis, Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis who have introduced new concepts of bowling (Reverse Swing, Doosra, carrom ball respectively). But there is no need for giving an honourary doctorate just for traditional performance.

If Dr M G R University really considered it necessary to give the award to some Sports person this year, there were people like Vishwanathan Anand, a local Chennai boy with Global achievements, or persons like Anil Kumble who had left the game recently with great dignity or  Abhinav Bindra who was the first to get an individual Gold medal for India in Olympics. A “Life Time Achievement” would perhaps be also a good consideration.

Sania was certainly not the logical choice. Only the award committee knows why it preferred Sania over others. This makes me think that the award committee had some extraneous reasons.

I would like to state once again that I am not in anyway taking away the performance of Sania in the Tennis field. But she still has many more playing days ahead and to stamp her authority. I am only making a point that academic insitutions should look for some form of academic excellence even in the field of Sports for conferring honourary degrees.

Please excuse me if I am hurting the sentiments of any Sania fans. Remember I am one too.

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