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30 April 2009

Open Letter To Prof Alison Richard

The report carrying her clarification on Rahul Gandhi's MPhil raises more questions than answers

Dear Prof Alison Richard,

I am a Delhi-based journalist investigating the academic credentials of Rahul Gandhi, the Indian National Congress candidate contesting from the constituency of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, for the Lok Sabha elections 2009.

I would like to get a detailed confirmation of your interview with Press Trust of India, the report of which was carried by The Times of India, IBN and Zee News. Recently, they (a newspaper and two television news channels respectively) carried an identical story (the web pages of IBN and Zee News do not give PTI the credit) in their respective websites, saying you, in the capacity of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, have confirmed that Rahul Gandhi (son of former/late Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi) received the postgraduate degree of MPhil on Development Studies from your esteemed university.

The three web pages are:
Your response seems to have been solicited in response to a critical report, questioning Rahul Gandhi's academic credentials, that had appeared in another newspaper:

The New Indian Express

The problem is that in the report that carries your word, there are no categorical (affirmative or negative) assertions to the following effect:
  1. Are Rahul Gandhi and Raul Vinci two names of the same person? Did Rahul Gandhi or his parents request your university to register him as a student under a pseudonym so that his high profile does not inconvenience him?
  2. Who is this Raul Vinci whose certificate has been displayed by the 'expressbuzz' website?
  3. Which department or section of your university issues MPhil certificates: the Examination Syndicate or the Committee of the department of the particular studies concerned?
  4. Why does your website say Rahul Gandhi gained his MPhil in "Development Economics", which also happens to be the entry in the affidavit that Rahul Gandhi filed along with the nomination papers of the Indian National Congress, which he is representing in the constituency of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, for the 2009 general elections? Isn't the exact name of the course supposed to be Development Studies? Isn't Development Economics merely a module under the course, Development Studies?
  5. Why does your website name Rahul Gandhi under the column of prime ministers though he isn't, and never was, one? Was the reference to Rajiv Gandhi's son required in a strict, official record? Is it not akin to an unwarranted advertisement of your institution's high profile clients under an inappropriate slot? If not, are the names of the sons/daughters/kin of other alumni too put under slots where they do not belong? Is the family of Jawaharlal Nehru-Rajiv Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi the only one, more than one member of which were students of your university?
  6. Finally, if the 'expressbuzz' report is misleading and/or false, are you contemplating legal action against the print-cum-web-based publication?
Please send across your answers to put to rest a big controversy surrounding the affair in India.

Thanking you,
Regards,
Yours sincerely,
Surajit Dasgupta.
Mobile: 9910279861
21 Ras Vihar, 99 Indraprastha Extension, Delhi 110 092

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