As a Chubb Fellow Shahrukh Khan recently visited the famous Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The Chubb Fellow usually makes a public address on a topic of special interest, open to the entire Yale University.
The visit enables the Chubb Fellow to meet with groups of students and faculty during a meal, reception or seminar.
Before he visited Yale the South Asian Film Society screened some of his most memorable films. While SRK did not get an honorary doctorate from Yale during this visit, it was indeed a great honor to be invited to Yale as a Chubb Fellow.
Many wonder why Indian celebrities get honorary doctorates or such invites from foreign Universities (few of these can be safely branded as Unknown Universities). The simple answer is – ‘publicity for the University’. It must be however noted that Yale is one of the most prestigious Universities in the world.
Very few in India were aware of SRK’s visit to Yale until he made the announcement of his yet another detention by US Immigration authorities in White Plains airport in New York. Every TV channel carried this news item over and over again and every news clip had something more than SRK – “Yale” in the background. Yale must be thanking the US Immigration authorities for helping them get the unplanned ‘free publicity’ in Indian media (which can be atrociously expensive)
Why did Yale invite SRK? In Yale's case, they're reaching out to the Indian market to get more full fee paying students and build a bridge to the wealthier India of the future. US Universities too are facing cash crunch, so they are looking at new revenue streams.
Do these Universities have to pay our celebrities? Often not because the celebrity also gains with the honorary doctorates. It is a clear win-win situation for the University and the celebrity, in fact a win situation for the hungry media too who are always looking for ANY NEWS to blow out of proportion.
Some of the Indian celebrities who have received honorary Doctorates are:
1. Mahendra Singh Dhoni awarded an honorary doctorate by De Montfort University, post Twenty20 practice match against Leicestershire (2011).
2. Girish Karnad given a doctorate by the University of Southern California (2011).
3. Shiamak Dawar recently presented with an honorary doctorate from the Middlesex University (2011).
4. Tamil actor Vikram was honoured with a doctorate by the 110-year-old university in Italy, which is popularly known as the People's University of Milan (2011).
5. Gurdaas Maan honoured with an honorary doctorate from Wolverhampton University, UK (2010).
6. Shabana Azmi conferred a doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan University (2009).
7. Shah Rukh Khan awarded honorary doctorate in Arts and Culture from the University of Bedfordshire (2009).
8. AR Rahman honoured with honorary doctorate degree by Middlesex University (2009).
9. Preity Zinta received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London (2009).
10. Yash Chopra awarded the honorary doctorate by Leeds Metropolitan (2009).
11. Amitabh Bachcham conferred an honorary doctorate by De Montfort University (2009).
12. Doctorate of Law degree by the University of Windsor, Ontario awarded to Akshay Kumar (2008).
13. Shilpa Shetty received an honorary doctorate from Leeds Metropolitan University (2007).
14. Ratan Tata, group Chairman, Tata Group, has been conferred an honorary degree of doctor of science by the Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT) Kharagpur at its 50th annual convocation in 2008.
On a different topic, was it correct for US Immigration to hold SRK for 2 hours? We think not. While they have every right to protect their country, as they should, they very well knew who King Khan (SRK) was. There was no way they could get him confused with the other Shahrukh Khan. We want SRK to continue to make people smile.