25 February, 2021

Socratic Egghead's Gown

Socratic Egghead's Gown
Last Wednesday, more than 50 years after he was a graduate student in St Johns' College, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh walked the Senate House lawns in a ceremonial procession escorted by the chancellor, the Duke of Edinburgh, to receive an honorary degree from this 800-year-old university. I went to Queens' College in 1967 and have been around the Cambridge pubs and galis one way or the other. Nehru was in Trinity College, next door to St Johns', living in Wheewells Court. I remember asking the Trinity porters, and going across to the corner room where he spent three years. Inside I found two long-haired guitar players! Nehru was the first to receive the Cambridge honour. Dr Manmohan Singh is the second from India.

In India, chamcha vice-chancellors readily offer degrees to men of power and influence, that too with the sanction of the chief minister. Not so in these western universities. The Hebdomal Council in Oxford is a very large body of all the graduates who are alive. They decide,...

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