Saturday 27 November 2021

Let us talk today about honorary degrees given to artistes. This is not coming from the discourse in the country about dubious degrees, misleading titles, and unheard-of domains of study. Instead, it comes from the fact that Padma Bhushan recipient, Kumudini Lakhia, the grande dame of Kathak, the senior most Kathak dancer and one of the most highly decorated artistes of the country, was awarded an Honorary degree, of Doctor of Letters (D. Litt.), by the ITM University, Gwalior, on 20th November 2021, on the occasion of its 6th convocation. I am so happy to be concluding the Soch column for this year, an annus horribilis in many ways, with a positive story.

ITM is a private University that has honoured distinguished personalities in the past too - since 2016. Among them are a mixed bag of journalists, sports persons, activists, media personalities, and arts icons, numbering almost forty in these six years. With this recognition, Kumiben has joined the ranks of arts icons like music maestros Dr. L. Subramanyam and Pt. Ajay Chakraborty, renowned artists like Prabhakar Kolte, Krishan Khanna and Arpita Singh, poets like Ashok Vajpeyi, film makers like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, actors like Naseeruddin Shah, and in dance Pt. Birju Maharaj. These are all past awardees from the arts.

It is remarkable that a university that is primarily a Technology and Management University has seen such value in the arts.

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