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Published On:23 December 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Jamia Millia Islamia confers Doctor of Letters on Prof. Amartya Sen

A tribute to Amartya Sen, an honour for Jamia Millia Islamia

By Manzar Imam

New Delhi: It was a rare moment for Jamia Millia Islamia. The university’s Ansari Auditorium was full with dignitaries, mostly academicians to have a close look of the 1998 Nobel laureate and listen to him. The occasion was the Special Convocation to confer the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) on Professor Amartya Sen on 16 December 2011.

The programme began with the recitation of the Holy Quran followed by its translation. Registrar S.M. Sajid then announced the convocation open. It followed by the welcome address of Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor S.M. Rashid read the citation acknowledging the contributions of Prof. Sen to “welfare economies” and “social choice theory”.

In his introductory remark Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung called Sen “a rare public intellectual”. Jung highlighted “the importance of being Amartya Sen in these polarized times” and added that “the lesson of his remarkable life for all of us in the university is fourfold”. That subject categories are meant to be enabling, not stifling. That the life of the mind is most meaningful when it harnesses curiosity to the cause of humanity. That good policy has to be derived from clear principles. That there is no contradiction between being a grounded Indian and a citizen of the world, said the VC.

The citation read that Professor Sen’s engagements with foundational issues related to welfare economies, social choice theory, inequalities and poverty, on the one hand, and national, tolerant and democratic social choice, on the other hand, enabled him to argue for inclusive development with systematic political broadening and social enlargement.
It further said, “In honouring Professor Sen, Jamia Millia Islamia, an institution established to encourage innovative thought and champion the cause of India’s Freedom, acknowledges his seminal contribution to the domain of knowledge, scholarship and critical thought.”

I am proud to be associated with the university, said Dr. Sen. In the brief address Sen said that convocations were fine occasions to highlight the importance of the pursuit of knowledge and also to question the nature of education in general and role of higher education in particular. He went on stating that there was a close connection between knowledge and doubting.

While posing the question whether higher education made any big difference, Prof. Amartya Sen cited the names of Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev,, Karl Marx, Nelson Mandela, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad among others to highlight the importance of higher education in providing the foundation for their success in their respective field of operation.

The VC presented the Honour to Dr. Amartya Sen. The Nobel laureate expressed happiness for being associated with Jamia Millia Islamia, calling it a powerful academic institution. He said that Jamia represented a confluence of different cultures and was committed to the pursuit of knowledge. He ended declaring his firm belief in the secular notion of India based on the secular notions of 17th century Mughar Emperor, Akbar.

[Delhi-based journalist Manzar Imam is Special Correspondent of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at manzarkhalil@gmail.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on December 23, 2011. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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