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Fake degrees, fake leaders

New Delhi, Wed, 08 Apr 2009 M Shamsur Rabb Khan

Had Varun Gandhi not made anti-Muslim speech at Pilibhit and came into limelight due to events thereafter that include slapping of NSA on him, the world would not have known that he claimed fake degrees. However, his lie was revealed when on March 19, he made a petition before the Allahabad High Court to quash the criminal case filed against him for making hate speeches in Pilibhit, in which he claimed thus: “That the petitioner is a well-educated and peace-loving citizen and has done his BSc Economics from the London School of Economics in the year 1999 till 2002, and thereafter went on to do his MSc in public policy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in the year 2002-2004.”

Both these institutions have said Varun’s claim is not correct. A few yeas ago, there erupted a row over Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s much-flaunted doctoral degree from East Georgia University. Later, it was discovered that the said university did not exist. Similar is the case of one Ashwin the Vice-Chancellor of South Gujarat University. In his CV, Kapadia claimed that he had a Ph D in alternative medicine from a Sri Lankan university. Again, the university did not exist. A few years ago, police caught ‘Dr’ Vikramjeet Singh, who claimed a degree from the Karanganda Medical Institute in Kazakhastan and was employed by a Delhi hospital. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The world does not know how many leaders, doctors, engineers, professors and businessmen flaunting fancy foreign degrees, many of which are fake. Only a thorough police enquiry reveals the same.

This statement made before a court of law shows how can Varun Gandhi be believed when he, on the controversy over his hate speech, initially had said that his voice was doctored? His denial was as false as his claims for foreign degrees. But why did Varun make such a tall claim? It was to impress the judge that such a “well-educated” politician, unlike those having degrees from Indian universities, cannot make such hate speech. Or was it to prove that anyone with a degree from London School of Economics cannot be communal in nature? However, his claim seems more as an escape route to dodge the judge than telling the truth. In legal parlance, Varun’s case falls under perjury, for example, Zahira Sheikh in Best Bakery case was awarded 3 months jail sentence for her false statement though she was actually a victim.

There is another angle to the episode. Why are Indians simply so obsessed with showing a ‘foreign’ degree even though they have no claim to it? Is this a proof we love all things that are foreign? Or do we have a talent and aptitude for deception and fakery? In spite of all the emotional speeches and advocacy about everything swadeshi, a great majority of Indians like to have foreign degree in order to display. It should be noted here that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has published a list of 22 fake universities in the country in which Uttar Pradesh topped it with 9.

Meanwhile, the fake degree claim of Varun Gandhi is going to be a serious setback to his political career, as it is a question of integrity from a young leader who happens to be a poet.

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