Nehru’s address at UoM convocation in 1948 remains untraceable

He had spoken at the special convocation in Crawford Hall

The virtual address scheduled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of University of Mysore’s 100th convocation on Monday brings under focus the address delivered by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at special convocation of the university held on December 28, 1948.

According to records available with the university, Nehru addressed the special convocation at the Crawford Hall, where an honorary degree of Doctor of Science was conferred on him by the then “Maharaja of Mysore” Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the Chancellor.

“It was Nehru’s first doctorate,” according to a coffee table book “One Hundred Years University of Mysore 1916-2016” brought out on the occasion of the university’s centenary celebrations. But, Nehru’s address on the occasion is untraceable in records of the university.

Visiting Professor, Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies, University of Mysore, C. Naganna, who retired as Director of Prasaranga, the publication directorate of the University, told The Hindu that the Prasaranga has brought out two volumes of the university’s convocation addresses. But, Mr. Nehru’s address has remained conspicuous by its absence.

The university, founded in 1916, had its first convocation on October 19, 1918, which was addressed by Ashuthosh Mukherjee. The first volume contains addresses delivered during various convocations starting from the first one in 1918 to 1995, though a few addresses are missing due to non-availability of information.

“The convocations addresses delivered after the one by Rajadharmapravina Diwan Bahadur K.S. Chandrasekara Iyer in 1944 till the one delivered by Syama Prasad Mukherjee in 1949 are missing,” Prof. Naganna said. The second volume of convocation addresses has been updated till the 2014 convocation address.

N. Niranjan Nikam, who was one of the editorial advisers for the coffee table book, said the university could not hold its annual convocation during 1947, the year in which India attained Independence, and the degrees were conferred to the students in absentia.

But during 1948, two convocations were held. While one was the regular convocation held on October 25, 1948, addressed by the then Dewan of Mysore Sir M. Visveswaraya, and the second one was the special convocation held on December 28, 1948, to confer the honorary doctorate to the then Prime Minister.

Prof. Naganna said the doctorate given to Mr. Nehru was the first-ever doctorate given to the late former Prime Minister from any university. No serious attempts had been made so far to secure Mr. Nehru’s address on the occasion.

“It is very unfortunate,” he said before adding that efforts will be made to trace the address in other archives of Mr. Nehru.

“We will try to trace the address and update it in the next volume of the convocation addresses,” Prof. Naganna added.

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