One of India’s former presidents was honoured earlier this week at a Scottish university and awarded an honorary degree for his close ties to the educational establishment.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who was president of the world’s second most populous country between 2002 and 2007, received the award from Edinburgh University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea.
It recognised Dr Kalam’s outstanding contribution to science and technology, and his commitment to helping transform India into a developed nation by 2020.
Dr Kalam studied physics at the St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli, and aerospace engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chennai.
He is regarded as the father of his country’s space programme and in recent years has campaigned to highlight the plight of India’s rural poor, advocating the use of technology to address social and economic inequalities.
Professor O’Shea commented, as he handed over the degree: “It is a privilege to welcome Dr Kalam to Edinburgh and to present him with an honorary degree.
“It recognises his extraordinary work as a scientist, as a figurehead for his country and for working to tackle rural poverty and injustice over many years.”
Dr Kalam also provided the keynote address at the inaugural conference of the University’s Edinburgh India Institute. The Institute will help coordinate the work of Edinburgh academics who are working with a wide range of partners across India.
The two-day event saw a series of presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities between staff and students from Edinburgh, partners from across India, and from other Scottish and UK stakeholders.