DLitt for singer and historian - Utkal VC calls for better faculty and infrastructure

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By PRIYA ABRAHAM
  • Published 22.02.15
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Dignitaries with their honourary doctorate degrees at the Utkal University convocation in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 21: Playback singer Prafulla Kar and historian and freedom fighter Prafulla Das were among the six prominent personalities, who were awarded an honourary DLitt by Utkal University for their contribution to the society at the varsity's 46th convocation ceremony today.

Kar, who began his musical journey in 1960 as a vocalist and artiste of the All India Radio in Cuttack, has composed music for over 70 Odia films and many Bengali films as well.

Ninety-year-old Das received the honour for his contribution as one of the oldest surviving historians and freedom fighters of the state. Das has written a number of books on the history of India's freedom struggle and the role of Odisha in the struggle of peasants against kings and zamindars.

Some of his works include Banhiman, the biography of freedom fighter Malati Chaudhury, which brought him the Sarala Award in 2014, Kalapanira Agnisikh, Agnijugar Aahwan, Bharatara Sasastra Mukti Sangram, Sahid Basu Bisuni, Kanika Prajaandolan Itihas, Netaji Aao feri Nahanti, Fashi Manchare Biplabi and so on. Das is also noted for his fight to eliminate leprosy.

Subroto Bagchi, co-founder of IT company MindTree, and playback singer Chittaranjan Jena were also conferred honorary DLitt today.

The varsity also honoured India-born theoretical physicist Jogesh Pati and biotechnologist Sthiti Kanta Das with honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degrees.

Total 263 PhD degrees were awarded on the occasion. Around 115 students from arts, 85 students from science, six students from legal studies, 36 students from commerce and management and 20 students from education departments received their PhD degrees.

As many as 107 students received gold medals for academic excellence.

Orissa High Court Chief Justice Amitabh Roy read out the convocation address, as Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, who was to be the chief guest for the occasion, could not attend the event.

The address said: "The education sector of our country is riddled with various problems in terms of quality, finance and research. Shortage of faculty and the use of ad hoc teachers is a common problem in almost all universities. We need to come together and work towards improving the quality of higher education to compete with the world's premier institutions in today's knowledge-based economy."

Utkal university vice-chancellor Asoka Kumar Das said: "I would expect the varsity to go up in all indices of development over the next three to five years. These include establishing benchmarks for quality of faculty and laboratories in postgraduate departments and constituent colleges, upgrade and installation of state-of-the-art learning equipment for all classes of students, engaging the students in constructive activities by providing basic amenities, and making a campus that all of us can be proud of."