Najeeb Jung (Left) and Amartya Sen (Right) at a special convocation for Amartya Sen at the Ansari Audi.; Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 (Photo: Crtsy JMI)

Amartya Sen conferred with ‘Doctor of Letters’ at Jamia

[Editor’s note: Following is a Jamia press release.]

Jamia Millia Islamia held a ‘Special Convocation’ on December 16, 2011 at 3 PM in Dr. M.A. Ansari Auditorium, Jamia Millia Islamia to confer the degree of ‘Doctor of Letters’ (Honoris Causa) on Prof. Amartya Sen.

Mr. Najeeb Jung, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia presided over the ‘Special Convocation’.

Najeeb Jung (Left) and Amartya Sen (Right) at a special convocation for Amartya Sen at the Ansari Audi.; Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 (Photo: Crtsy JMI)


The citation presented to him on the occasion reads, “In honouring Professor Amartya Sen with the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), the Jamia Millia Islamia, an institution established to encourage innovative thought and champion the cause of India’s Freedom, acknowledges his seminal contribution to the domain of knowledge, scholarship and critical thought.’

Mr. Najeeb Jung, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia on the occasion highlighted “the importance of being Amartya Sen in these polarized times” and added that “the lesson of his remarkable life for all us in the university is fourfold. 1) That subject categories are meant to be enabling, not stifling…2) That the life of the mind is most meaningful when it harnesses curiosity to the cause of humanity…3) That good policy has to be derived from clear first principles: the intellectual life isn’t peripheral to governance, it is central to it. 4) That there is no contradiction between being a grounded Indian and a citizen of the world. Professor Sen has been Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, President of the American Economic Association, Professor at Harvard without once ceasing to be an engaged Indian. This has to do with more than the colour of his passport. It is connected to his attachment to Bengal, his socialization is Santiniketan, his immersion in the history of the sub-continent, and above all, his conviction that cosmopolitanism and Indianness are functions of one’s values, not one’s location.”

After receiving the degree of ‘Doctor of Letters’, Prof Amartya Sen said that that he is proud to become associated with Jamia Millia Islamia which is an admixture of South Asian Muslim History, National Heritage, and a Global Academic Institution.

While posing the question that, ‘does higher education make a huge difference?’, Prof Amartya Sen cited the names of the likes of Mahatama Gandhi, Karl Marx, Nelson Mandela, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad among others to highlight the importance of higher education in providing the foundation for their success in their respective field of operation.

Prof Sen further added that the highest contribution of any higher education is “the cultivation of questioning and doubt”. Quoting Francis Bacon, he said that there is an inviolable connection between knowledge and doubt.

Prof. Amartya Sen is a world renowned Economist who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to ‘welfare economics’ and ‘social choice theory’ and for bringing into focus the problems of the poorest members of society. He was awarded the ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest civilian award in India, in 1999.

Prof Sen is currently the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University.

The convocation was attended by the university community – students, teachers and staff as also by invited dignitaries from the government, embassies, other academic institutions and members of the press.

Scenes From the Event:

*click on an image to enlarge

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