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Awards list irks Stephen's alumni

NEW DELHI, Dec 14, 2012 dhns: 1:28 IST

‘Distinguished former students ignored’

Many old Stephanians are unhappy with the list of former students picked for the first C F Andrews Distinguished Alumni awards to be presented on Saturday.

Members of the Association of Old Stephanians allege that the process of selecting winners of the award named after a professor from the Gandhian era was not transparent.

As many as 57 former St. Stephen's College have been selected.
They include authors Amitav Ghosh, NDTV's Barkha Dutt, senior journalist B G Varghese, journalist-politician Chandan Mitra and CNN-IBN's Sagarika Ghose. The others mostly hold office in various ministries and government departments.

Association's media coordinator Ashish Joshi said many distinguished alumni are missing from the list. He mentioned author Khushwant Singh, West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former cricketer Kirti Azad, Olympic medal-winning athlete Ranjit Bhatia and first Indian to ski on North and South poles Ajeet Bajaj.

“The inside talk is that the list is to please the Church and the people in power,” he said, alleging that the college principal was lobbying for another term for himself.

The members said the St Stephen's tradition was to encourage excellence in all walks of life and fields – and for this reason no such wards have been given by the college established in 1881.

Sanjeev Meston, another member, said various fields like sports, art, science, defence and education were neglected in the list. He suggested that the award should be instituted on the lines of the Nobel Prize.

“It is a general opinion that the awardees are definitely deserving candidates, but have been handpicked by the principal to consolidate his position. And, if the need arises he can fall back for help and support from most of these,” Meston said.

“I guess, the reason for people to jump to this conclusion is the hurry in which this award was instituted and the lack of transparency,” he added.

Another association member Amitabha Pande said, “This is so patently an attempt to buy out potential critics and adversaries. Of course, any comment from me will be dismissed as motivated.”

“I dislike the fact that senior alumni members who are also members of alumni foundation trust are supporting the principal. More so, I dislike the fact that some of them find themselves in the list,” said member Smita Narain.

The awardees include former union minister Arun Shourie, FICCI secretary general Alwyn Didar Singh, former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, former National Advisory Council member Harsh Mander, Union minister for communication and information technology Kapil Sibal, Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, Intelligence Bureau director Nechal Sandhu, State Bank of India chairman Pratip Chaudhuri, minister of state for human resources Shashi Tharoor, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.

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