India’s former Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji has been awarded an honorary doctorate by one of the top universities in the UK in recognition of his decades-long contribution to diplomacy, becoming only the second Indian to be bestowed with this honour since 2012. The University of East Anglia honoured Mukerji with the award of a Doctorate in Civil Laws honoris causa during a formal ceremony last week at the institution.
Describing Mukerji as “one of India’s greatest diplomats,” the University in its oration said he is “peace-maker and peace-keeper personified” and lauded his “imaginative commitment to global challenges, and an unfaltering sense of shared yet differentiated responsibilities.” It said Mukerji “has always aimed to create productive, sustainable and secure futures: not only for the citizens and Government of India that he has served, but also for all of us, as world citizens.”
In his acceptance speech, Mukerji said expressed gratitude for being conferred with the award in recognition of his work as a diplomat. He said the award “recognizes the importance of international cooperation as the connective tissue for a sustainable world.” Mukerji highlighted UEA’s “India-connection” over the years. One of India’s best known agricultural scientists, M S Swaminathan, often called the “father of the Green Revolution” in India, was conferred the honorary doctorate by the University in 2012.
Addressing the student graduates in the audience, Mukerji said “on the one hand, the emergence of innovative technologies and applications will enable you to use your knowledge to impact on the lives of many more people than ever before. On the other hand, you will confront an increasingly turbulent world, polarized between adhering to the principle of international cooperation and the counter arguments of assertive sovereignty of nation states.
“This turbulence has been faced by us before. It required great sacrifice from people from all parts of the globe, especially India and the United Kingdom, to overcome such challenges through the First and Second World Wars,” he added. Mukerji had served as India’s Permanent Representative to the UN between 2013 and 2015, during when he had spearheaded India’s campaign for Security Council reform.
The University said that Mukerji’s “most notable and far-reaching achievements” at the United Nations related to the adoption, in 2015, of the Sustainable Development Goals. “Here Asoke oversaw India’s long-term commitment to the UN’s universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is a move that will create many positive ramifications for India and the rest of the world, given its emphasis on innovation, technology and inclusion,” it said.