New Delhi: After another controversy came back to haunt the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD), Ramesh Pokhriyal issued a clarification saying that he has mentioned different dates of births considering the Hindu horoscope and his school certificate.
The controversy brought to light the degrees that were issued to him by the Open International University (OIU) and the different dates of birth he mentioned in passport and CV. As per his CV, Pokhriyal was born on August 15, 1959, while his passport says July 15, 1959, a discrepancy of 30 days.
The accusations were levelled against him just a day after he took charge as the HRD minister. Pokhriyal told the press that the difference of 30 days between his two birth dates owes to the Hindi horoscope and that he never taken advantage of it.
On the controversy around his honorary degrees, Pokhriyal told news outlet LiveHindustan.com that he had been bestowed with the titles so he can show them, not hide them.
This is also not the first time that former Uttarakhand CM Pokhriyal’s educational qualification has been brought under the scanner. In fact, back in 2009 reports emerged a day after he had assumed office calling to question his qualifications.
Back then the investigation found that the two degrees Pokhriyal had were "fake" as they were issued from an unregistered university. He had been conferred a DLitt by the Open International University (OIU) of Colombo for his “contributions” to literature in 90s.
He received another DLitt degree from OIU for his “contributions” to the field of science. The university is not recognized by the government and falls outside the jurisdiction of the University Grants Commission (UGC). At the time, the Congress leader Harak Singh had asked Pokhriyal to show his degree because “people don’t use the Dr honorific for an honorary degree.”
The UGC in Sri Lanka had then told the media that, “The Open International University is not a higher educational institution that comes under the UGC or established under the Universities Act in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the UGC is not in a position to comment on the qualification awarded by the said university.”
OIU is not accepted internationally, hence the UGC in Sri Lanka does not recognize it as a foreign university or higher educational institute. The institutions that are mentioned in the Commonwealth Universities yearbook and the International Handbook of the Universities also explicated that OIU does not enjoy these standards.
The previous cabinet under Prime Minister Modi had also seen then-HRD minister Smriti Irani being placated by similar allegations. She was later replaced by Prakash Javadekar.