Union Minister Kapil Sibal apologies to Anand over citizenship controversy

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New Delhi, Aug. 24 (ANI): Union Human Resource and Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday expressed regret to World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand regarding a recent controversy about conferring an honorary doctorate to him.

The Minister today sought to clarify that Anand's nationality was never questioned by the HRD ministry.

The University of Hyderabad denied world chess champion Viswanathan Anand an honorary doctorate after the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) said that it is confused about whether he is an Indian or a Spanish citizen.

The university had decided to award Anand an honorary doctorate in 2009 and had formally forwarded the proposal to the Ministry recently.

Since all foreign awardees require approval from the Ministry of External Affairs, the HRD ministry raised citizenship queries, as Anand lives with his wife in Spain.

Speaking during a news conference held here in the capital, the Union Minister Kapil Sibal said: "Anand has now agreed to accept the honour."

Sibal informed reporters that he spoke to the World champion over telephone and expressed regret following some media reports that Anand was denied the honour proposed by the University of Hyderabad after the HRD ministry had raised questions over his nationality.

"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," the Minister said.

Asked about the media reports that the Ministry had raised doubts over Anand's nationality, who has made Spain his second home for some years now but holds an Indian passport, Sibal said, "There is no question, there is no issue. There is no question of nationality."

The Minister informed reporters that 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," he said.

"If I had known I would have put my foot down, he added.

He said: "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."

He further added: "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.

Earlier in the day, Aruna Anand, wife of the world champion said: "We are very upset. We don't have to prove to anyone if we are Indian."

"Anand has given everything to the game and also he has no time to take the award and attend the event", she added.

University sources said all relevant documents were forwarded to the ministry, which was expected to approve them and send them to President Pratibha Patil, who holds the official title of Visitor at the University of Hyderabad. (ANI)

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