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Rahul first in three generations with a world university degree
Shyam Bhatia in London

Rahul GandhiRahul Gandhi has emerged as the first in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in three generations to obtain a degree from a respected world university. Unlike his father Rajiv Gandhi who failed to obtain a degree from Cambridge, and his grandmother Indira Gandhi who failed to complete her course at Oxford, Rahul can be proud of his academic credentials.

Rumours have been rife for years about whether Rahul did or did not obtain a degree from a prestigious foreign university. The mystery has been resolved, thanks to information provided by a UK-based academic who says he helped the would-be Prime Minister gain admission to Cambridge.

The academic is half-Hungarian, half-Indian Dr Anil Seal who confessed in an all-but-forgotten speech late last year: ďYes, I did teach Prince Charles. Yes, I was instrumental in bringing -- not perhaps our star pupil ó Rajiv (Gandhi) to Cambridge. Yes, I had a hand in getting Rahul when he came incognito to Trinity under the name of Da Vinci some years back, but I didnít actually teach engineering (Rajivís subject) or development studies (the subject of Rahulís one-year M.Phil).

Rahulís pseudonym is why investigators until now have found it difficult to establish for certain whether he did qualify for any kind of Cambridge degree. Inquiries carried out by The Tribune, however, show that a student registered as Raoul Vinci did get a Cambridge M.Phil in 1995.

Despite failing in one paper ó national economic planning and policy, where he obtained 58 per cent instead of the minimum 60 per cent, he was still awarded his degree. His other grades were 65 per cent in development economics, 62 per cent in institutions and development and 66 per cent in international economic integration.

The final confirmation came earlier this year when Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Alison Richard confirmed how Rahul was awarded an M.Phil in development studies in 1995.

In subsequent widely quoted comments, she added: It is extremely unfortunate that a controversy has arisen regarding your degree and we would like to set the controversy at rest immediately.

In the controversy about Rahulís degree, the real significance of what he achieved has been forgotten.

Better than Rajiv, Indira

He is the first in the direct Nehru-Gandhi line in three generations to have received a higher academic qualification from a reputable university. Unfortunately, his academic success highlights the corresponding failures of his father and grandmother.

Dr Seal made an off-hand reference to Rajiv Gandhiís lack of academic capability, describing him as ďnot perhaps our star pupilĒ. The reality is that Rajiv, Rahulís father, failed to complete his degree at Cambridge.

Newly released confidential British Government briefing papers from 1982-83, entitled PREM 19/799, Annex B, refer to Rajiv as the elder son of Mrs Indira Gandhi and late Feroze Gandhi; educated Doon School, Dehradun, and Trinity College Cambridge (1962-65); read engineering but did not get a degree (through lack of application rather than lack of ability).

The same briefing paper goes on to say: ĎHe is not an intellectual and is still sensitive about his failure to complete his degree at Cambridge. Rajivís wife, Sonia, is described as an attractive, quiet-mannered Italian whom he met at Cambridge. She gets on well with Indira Gandhi but has no interest in politics.Ē Rajivís mother and Rahulís grandmother, Indira Gandhi, originally failed her entrance exam for Oxford before she was accepted to study history at Somerville College in 1937. But, like her son Rajiv, she too failed to complete her degree and had to leave Somerville after only three terms.

An Oxford source told The Tribune, "Indira Gandhi arrived at Somerville in 1937 and stayed three terms, leaving in June 1938. She fully intended to come back (as seen in letters to her friend Kay Davies) but ill-health and eventually the war in Europe prevented her. She passed Hons Mods (first public exams) in French, law and politics." Despite her lack of academic success, Oxford last year confirmed that a new graduate studies centre, which has attracted a contribution of Rs 25 crore from the Government of India, is to be named in honour of Indira Gandhi. It will be known as the Indira Gandhi Centre for Sustainable Development.

Reason for doubt

  • Rahulís pseudonym is why investigators until now have found it difficult to establish for certain whether he did qualify for any kind of Cambridge degree
  • In a speech last year, academic Dr Anil Seal said, ďI had a hand in getting Rahul when he came incognito to Trinity under the name of Da Vinci some years backĒ
  • Inquiries carried out by The Tribune show that a student registered as Raoul Vinci did get a Cambridge M.Phil in 1995

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