Savitribai Phule Pune University
Savitribai Phule Pune University.Wikimedia Commons

A circular issued by Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) in 2006 says that only vegetarians and teetotallers will be eligible for gold medals kicked up a controversy in the institution on Friday.

Abstaining from alcohol and non-vegetarian food are a few of the criteria that students excelling in science should have in order to be eligible for the 'Yoga Guru Ramchandra Shelar' aka 'Shelar Mama' gold medal.

Same rule followed every year

These criteria have been taken into consideration for quite a few years. "This is not a new award and the 'Shelar family' that sponsors the award had certain expectations from applicants which were mentioned in the circular," the university was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Even Arvind Shaligram, the registrar of the SPPU, said that the terms and conditions for the medal were set by the trust which instituted the medal and they have been abiding by it.

Students should be teetotallers to be eligible for gold medal.Creative Commons

"Since the gold medal is given every year, the circular is re-issued every year and the content of the circular remains same and only date changes," Shaligram said, while adding that the university has nothing to do with this.

However, it became the centre of controversy after the SPPU recently invited applications for the medal from outstanding post-graduate students from non-science streams.

University to review criteria

The university has now decided to review the criteria. "We do not discriminate between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The university has no view on who should eat what. As far as the medal is given to vegetarians and non-alcoholics, a decision to review the criteria will be taken with the sponsors of the medal," the SPPU told Hindustan Times.

What are the other criteria?

Apart from being a vegetarian and a non-alcoholic, the circular also says that the student should believe in Indian culture, tradition and practise all these values in his daily life.

Surya PranamCreative Commons

The circular further says that the eligible students must be versatile in activities like dance, singing, eloquence and theatre.

"Student who practises yoga and pranayama and meditation will be given preference," the circular stated.