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Dr Cool

Honorary doctorates get you a PhD, without the academic third-degree

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January 28, 2017 12:00:10 am
rahul dravid, rahul dravid doctorate, rahul dravid phd, doctorate degree rahul dravid, india news Rahul Dravid said he’ll try to earn a doctorate through academic research in sports. (Source: PTI Photo/File)

Rahul Dravid has fans applauding again, but for a feat off the pitch. Dravid hit the headlines for turning down Bangalore University’s offer of an honorary doctorate. Even his refusal was characteristic of the strong and silent “wall”, who stood firm as he finished games with flourish. Dravid said he’ll try to earn a doctorate through academic research in sports. His reticence has fans cheering. But other celebrities aren’t so shy about becoming Dr sahibs.

In fact, Bollywood stars generally accept honorary PhDs with glee. While Shah Rukh Khan reportedly has three (one accepted graciously while wearing dark glasses), Amitabh Bachchan has been conferred at least five honorary PhDs (showered on him from Britain to Australia to our very own Jhansi University). Even Akshay Kumar is “Dr Khiladi”, sorry, “Dr Kumar”, with an honorary doctorate from Canada’s Windsor University. Shilpa Shetty received an honorary doctorate from Leeds Metropolitian University, right after the apparently scholastic feat of winning Big Brother in Britain, while Preity Zinta, famous for dimpling through Salaam Namaste, was awarded an honorary PhD by the University of East London. Vijay Mallya has an honorary PhD too, from a Southern California university, no doubt nestled near the region’s vineyards.

And that is the fun of the honorary PhD. In contrast to the traditional doctorate, these degrees award having fun in the public eye. Normally, PhD scholars spend years locked away from society, embracing research that becomes their entire universe. They miss parties, avoid dates, shake off moneyed jobs and sidestep a real life, lodged in libraries, chained to their desks in the lonely pursuit of wisdom, a “guide” their only human company until they “submit” several thousand words and await a dreaded viva. Compare this dreary slog to the utterly buttery magic of the honorary PhD. You sing, dance, act, play sports or just party, earning moolah and taalis. And hey presto, you’re called “Dr” as well, with the added delight of blowing air kisses at those who could’ve otherwise examined your thesis.

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