Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has sought the Centre’s permission to confer the honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) Degree on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, “in recognition of his exemplary service and contribution to global affairs.”
The Indian Express has learned that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) received the first AMU proposal in September last year, after which it sought a list of foreign dignitaries who have been awarded honorary degrees since the establishment of the university. The university shared the names with the center in October 2021.
AMU reiterated their proposal in January this year. The recurrence came as part of a request for a one-year extension for Vice-Chancellor Professor Tariq Mansoor, where the main reason cited by Registrar Abdul Hamid was the vacancy in the university court and executive council – which lists and recommends candidates for VC. The post of President – since the election could not be held due to Kovid-19.
Mansoor, who was appointed VC in May 2017, was given an extension of one year “after May 15, 2022, or until the next responsible appointment, whichever is earlier” According to the record.
“In view of the exemplary service and contribution of His Excellency Mohammed bin Salman, the Royal Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, in the global issue, AMU has offered to provide de lit. Degree (Reason of Honor) His Royal Highness. This gesture will further strengthen the already cordial and friendly relations between Saudi Arabia and India, ”the AMU proposal to the Center said.
Speaking as the Chief Guest at the AMU Centenary Celebrations on December 22, 2020, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi lauded the role of AMU in promoting India towards better relations with the Islamic world. Since its inception, the University has recognized and honored exemplary service, commitment and excellence for global improvement, ”the proposal added.
The university has also sent a copy of the proposal to the Ministry of Education and the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, indicating that the date and mode of the conference could be decided in due course “depending on the convenience of its Royal Highness”.
The Saudi Crown Prince, popularly known as MBS, visited India in February 2019, during which he held extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on strengthening bilateral ties.
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AMU reminds that a D.Litt. MBS is important not only for India’s relations with Saudi Arabia, but also for other West Asian countries such as the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Jordan.
According to records shared by the AMU with the center, Saudi King Saud bin Abdulaziz was de-lit. By the University in 1955. Other global personalities who have received honorary doctorates from AMU: former West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhad (1958), former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1960), former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1952), former Maldivian President (Abdel) , Former Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ghulam Ali Haddad-Adel (2005), Japanese physicist and Nobel laureate Professor Takaki Kazita (2016).
When contacted, AMU VC Mansoor said, “His (Saudi Crown Prince’s) visit to AMU will further strengthen India’s friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries and enhance Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to establish greater geopolitical ties with the region.”