Sunday, January 8, 2017

Honorary Doctorate Degree

I have read many blog posts during the last few weeks about Ms. Jayalalithaa. All of them addressed her as Dr. Jayalalithaa. Many leaders, actors, and others who were condoling her passing away, addressed her as Dr, Jayalalithaa. Watched them in Youtube.
 
Her arch rival (or should I call her bête noire) in Tamil Nadu is always addressed as Dr. Karunanidhi.
 
I was wondering which medical school these people attended. Ms. Jayalalithaa was a high school graduate. Mr. Karunanidhi did not even enter high school. They both were given honorary doctorate degree from some university.
 
According to the book, Honor & Respect, the Official Guide to Names, Titles & Forms of Address, recipients of honorary doctorates are not entitled to be addressed as Dr. except at the granting university.
 
I don’t know why these important well known people are given honorary doctorate degrees. They don’t need this degree to advance their career. Funny thing is you don’t even need to be a human being to get an honorary doctorate degree. In 1996, Southampton College in New York awarded an honorary doctorate degree to Kermit the Frog.
 
Hope the Indian politicians who are given honorary doctorate do not start wearing stethoscope around their neck.
 
Hope they do not compel the party members to come to them if they need medical advice or any surgical procedure.
 
It is also illegal to use the Padma awards (Padmashri, Padma Bhushan, etc.) as a title in front of one's name.  But almost everyone in India who received these awards are addressed with these titles.  I have seen many many tamil movies "starring Padmashri Sivaji Ganesan" (title credit at the beginning of these movies).

30 comments:

  1. Yes, it is the practice here, in Tamilnadu. No one knows whether to use these 'degrees' publicly or have the guts to question. Even Kamal is called 'Ulaga Naayagan'...does he need that title? He is a good actor everyone knows. All are crazy about 'titles'!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. The problem is even educated people use "dr."

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    1. Thanks Vineeta for your comments. I am glad you agree with me.

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  3. I don't advocate Dr. even for Doctors and PHd graduates. They are people first and Mr/Ms will very well do is what I feel.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. In some countries Engineers are addressed with a prefix of Er.

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  4. These honorary degrees are given to individuals for outstanding contributions to society or notable work in any field.There is no requirement of minimum education,thesis,nationality or examination.It is a distinction awarded for distinguished people and should be done with extreme care and infrequently.
    But in practice some universities are liberal.
    For the individual to flaunt such honorary degrees is not in good taste but the fans indulge in highlighting such awards to satisfy the ego of the individual.Let us not grudge these minor aberrations by a few.There are many distinguished citizens who richly deserved and who have been conferred many such doctorates,even a dozen, by several universities.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Mr. KP. I was just pointing out the etiquette.

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  5. I agree with Rajesh. It sounds more odd when they call themselves as Dr.
    I guess, honorary doctorate degree has to be mentioned as DR?

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sindhu. Yes, it sounds odd.

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  6. I agree with KParthasarathi's view.

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    1. Thanks for your comments DA. Please see my reply to Mr. KP.

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  7. Kermit the frog ...Haha....What distinguished service did he render or is that a she !

    Is this a particularly Indian phenomena ? This craze for titles and being addressed in a particular way. I don't know

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  8. Thanks for your comments Sujatha. Kermit the Frog is a muppet character in television shows like Sesame Street. Kermit is a he.

    Fans or workers addressing them as Dr. is, I think, a phenomenon only in Tamil Nadu. No other country or no other state in India address the politicians/movie actors/athletes as Dr. even though they may have received honorary doctorate degree.

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  9. Interesting!! If the recipients of honorary doctorates are not entitled to be addressed as Doctor except at the granting university (which they would be visiting rarely), then what's exactly the point in giving these celebrities these honorary degrees?

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    1. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. That is my point. These degrees are useless. If someone has to be recognized, he/she is already recognized in his/her field.

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  10. I can tolerate or ignore . But there is one thing that I hate which I have noticed here . Adding the qualification in wedding invitation and writing it on the compound wall under the house name or the owner name !

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    1. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. There is a reason for putting their qualification in the wedding invitation and on the house compound. They must have received their degrees with great difficulty - after attempting several times and taking many years.

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  11. Educated people spend days and nights to obtain a doctorate degree. The politicians may it be X or Y, do not own clean hands or clear minds to receive such a title of reputation. Their power of chair helps them grab with ease this kind of degrees from Universities.A very relevant topic.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sarala. Very well said.

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  12. I think these honorary degrees shoukd be stopped, I always find it funny to see many renowned universities giving such degrees to actors who may not be educated. One should be honoured for one's own field..actors should get awards for their acting but why in education.such awards should be only for accomplished people in education field,

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    1. Thanks for your comments Renu. Agreed.

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  13. Honorary degrees make no sense to me. In south Indian movies, they add a title to every single hero. In the beginning of the movie, they show "starring blah blah actor". Maybe because many movies run because of that actor and nobody cares about the plot or direction or anything else about that movie.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Ash. Agreed

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  14. Yes, that is funny when school dropout are conferred with Doctorates. I think it is an insult to those who toil and sweat to get one.
    Back after yet another Pilgrimage SG,Happy the year started on a good note.


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    1. Thanks for your visit Chitra. Agree with you. I am glad this year started on a good note.

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  15. I have given details of Tirunangur travel in my coomments SG.pls feel free to get back if you need any info.

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  16. The problem is not the honorary degrees or the titles. The problem is our deeply entrenched feudal mindset.

    Somehow, what a person is doing right now fades in comparision to what he did at some earlier time, or the family or group she or he belongs to.

    We as a country are fighting against it. It is a slow but steady fight, SG, but thanks to work by many people (including yourself when you posted this blog post), we will defeat this mindset.

    Might take a few decades, or centuries, but we will. (No pun intended)

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