Berhampur, May 2: The 17th annual convocation ceremony of Berhampur University was held peacefully today belying apprehensions of disturbance at the venue.
Student leaders, political leaders and some others had earlier threatened to stage a protest against awarding of honorary degrees by the university to persons, who, according to them, “did not deserve the honour”.
University sources said the awardees were selected by the syndicate and had been approved by governor and chancellor of the universities M.C. Bhandare.
The honorary degrees were conferred on National Planning Commission member Syeda S. Hameed, woman activist V. Mohini Giri, Berhampur MP Sidhant Mahapatra, sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik, Odia newspaper editor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and cardiologist Kabi Prasad Mishra.
Four others — leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, senior advocate Iqbal M. Chagla, Puri MP Pinaki Mishra and spiritual guru Chandrabhanu Satpathy — were awarded the degree in absentia. Besides, degrees were awarded to 9,500 students and DLitt, PhD as well as DSc to 188 researchers.
Bhandare said Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Boudh, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Malkangiri districts, under the jurisdiction of Berhampur University, had shown an improved literacy rate.
“Each district except Malkangiri has bridged the gap between male and female literacy during 2001-11. The university has evinced a keen interest in implementing the Gyanalok programme launched by me to find out reasons for the high dropout rate among the tribal girls and create awareness among the marginalised sections,” he said.
Bhandare also highlighted on inculcating moral values among the students. “Knowledge without character is meaningless,” he said.
University vice-chancellor J.K. Mahapatra said they had planned extension activities and outreach programmes by way of establishing Centre for Extension Services on Coastal Zone Management and Awareness Programme for Women Empowerment with funding from the University Grants Commission.
“The university has made optimum use of the financial assistance received from the UGC during the 11th Plan period. We have submitted our proposals to avail financial assistance under the 12th Plan period in which new research activities have been planned,” he said. Mahapatra said all districts under the jurisdiction of Berhampur University had, however, recorded low gross enrolment rate.