Social media acts again: doctorate returned to dubious university

Adman and marketing expert Suhel Seth returns honour following a mini-storm on social media launched by Maheshwar Peri

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Puja Bhattacharjee | December 2, 2013



Online vigilance has made marketing wizard Suhel Seth return an honorary doctorate conferred upon him by Rai University.

In his letter to the Gujarat-based university, Seth wrote, “While I must thank you for bestowing an Honorary Doctorate on me, for very personal reasons, owing to some agonising reports I have been receiving, I am herewith returning the same.

“I hope you will appreciate my predicament and remove my name from the roster of Doctorates that you awarded on November 20, 2013.”

The controversy broke online when Maheshwer Peri, CEO of Careers 360, a career counseling organisation that runs a portal and magazine on counseling and higher education, wrote on the university’s dubious credentials on Facebook. He also questioned Seth’s lack of awareness in accepting an honorary doctorate from such a university.

Seth responded promptly by promising to return his degree.

“In fact even at the damn convocation I said this was a fraudulent event...I was told that this was a legit university and so on...but I agree...it is a fraud and I will have nothing to do with it...” Seth wrote on Facebook.

Reacting to the news, Peri said, “I am glad he has acted the way he did. He must have found merit in what I have said.”

Peri, the former publisher of the Outlook group of magazines, added that celebrities should be extra careful in who they choose to associate with.
Luring students by associating itself with famous and respectable personalities is seen as a common practice by private universities. Students fresh out of school, who do not make it to government institutions, tend to gravitate towards private universities. With private universities mushrooming across the country, it is often a race among them to bring in more students, and celebrity endorsement plays a pivotal role in filling the seats.

Besides Suhel Seth, Rai University had conferred honorary degrees to former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, renowned fashion designer Ritu Beri and entrepreneur Priti Paul.

The univeristy could not be reached for comments.

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