CHENNAI: If there is one equalising force, it could well be education. And the convocation at the University of Madras (UoM) on Monday offered ample evidence for it. From a former higher education minister and IAS officers to first-generation learners and pensioners, people from different walks of life gathered under one roof to receive their doctorates.
P Palaniappan (60), State higher education minister between 2011 and 2016, was inspired to take up research after he, during his term, visited different universities to hand over PhD degrees to scholars. “In 2012, I enrolled in a PhD programme in botany at the UoM. My topic was ‘Biodiversity conservation and management practices in the sacred groves of Madurai district’. I completed my research paper in 2019 and got the degree today,” Palaniappan told TNIE. Palaniappan said he will use his knowledge to spread awareness among youth about medicinal plants in the State.
Two senior State officers, MS Shanmugam IAS (secretary III to CM) and K Srinivasan, Assembly secretary, were also among the PhD recipients. Higher education secretary D Karthikeyan’s wife Leelavathy K V also received PhD.
The cake, however, goes to 72-year-old S Kalaiselvan who received his doctorate in history. “I am a lawyer, so I did my PhD on the concept of justice in the Sangam age. I enrolled in the programme when I was 62,” he said. For S Sathiya, a first-generation learner from Tindivanam, the doctorate is the passport to her dreams. “I am waiting to join a good job after completion of the research.
It will help me improve the lives of my family members,” said Sathiya. Another PhD recipient was D Ponnuswamy, a differently-abled retired professor from the Anna Institute of Management, who used his retirement for the pursuit of knowledge. At least 931 students were awarded degrees in person during the convocation. Of this, 731 were PhD awardees.