WITH BOTH THE MEDIA, mainstream or the other type, and the digital social media, all plagued by paid news and fakenews, losing credibility, it is hard to believe any information that floods our devices.
So when the news of Tej Pratap Yadav, whose claim for being a Minister in the Bihar Cabinet is that he is the son of RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav, went viral, it was taken with the proverbial pinch of salt. Multiple attempts to verify on Google, believed to be the ultimate repository of truth, yielded 100s of links but NOT one confirmed the award of honorary Doctorate degree to the Minister by the University of Takshsila, once a world-renowned center of learning in ancient India.
Tej Pratap, who superseded thousands of political workers with decades of experience to become a Minister was eminently qualified as his father was ruling the state through a dummy Chief Minister as he is a convict barred by court from holding a post. He had failed his 10th class exam, which is quite unusual in Bihar where exam ranks can be bought. No wonder the government is supported by the dynastic Congress party.
The author of the message about the doctorate resorted to sarcasm: “ I am extremely happy and delighted to inform you that Mr. Tej Pratap Ydav (10th failed) son of Lalu Prasad Yadav received a Doctorate degree from Takshsila University, Bihar. It is a matter of great pride for all Indians. Congrats to Dr. Tej Prasad Yadav. It happens only in India… Jai ho.”
On January 31 this year I wrote a post on the famous cricketer Rahul Dravid refusing to accept an honorary doctorate, saying that he would rather earn one if he could. That the news of Tej’s doctorate, accompanied by a photograph (not considered proof any more, thanks to morphing and Photoshop) sounded plausible and could also be true, is itself a comment on the state of affairs in India.
A law or a judicial pronouncement prohibiting award of honorary doctorates to politicos has not yet been made. Several politicians, especially in South India, received awards from Universities controlled by them. ‘Doctor’ Jayalalithaaa and her mentor ‘Doctor’ M.G. Ramachandran are only a few of them.
Politicians, the beneficiaries, will not stop them. Only the people can.