MEA had 'reservations' about conferring doctorate to Dalai

MEA had `reservations` about conferring doctorate to Dalai New Delhi: The Centre has accepted that External Affairs Ministry had initial "reservations" about conferring of an honorary doctorate degree to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama by Jamia Millia Islamia, but later gave the nod.

The proposal by Jamia Millia to honour the Dalai Lama did not have a smooth sailing in the External Affairs Ministry apparently because of Chinese sensitivities.

The University had plans to award the doctorate to the Nobel Laureate on November 23, 2010 -- a month ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India and apparently the Ministry was apprehensive about its timing.

Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung then spoke to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao against the backdrop of a media report that the MEA was blocking the University's move to honour the Dalai Lama as it came ahead of Jiabao's visit to India.

Later the nod was received and the Dalai Lama was conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by Union Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal who was the chief guest at the University's annual convocation.

"Initially, Ministry of External Affairs was having some reservations to provide Honorary Degree to His Holiness the Dalai Lama but later on clearance was given to honour him with the degree by Jamia Millia Islamia," the HRD Ministry, nearly six months after the episode, has said in an RTI response to activist S C Agrawal.

The University had also requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to accept the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) at its annual convention, but the Prime Minister's Office had sent "a polite letter of regret" to Vice-Chancellor Jung expressing inability to accept the degree.