cooperation is the theme of Madanjeet Singh's latest book, The Sasia
Story. It is closely interwoven with UNESCO's programmes, principles
and ideals and his search for common cultural and economic denominators
to foster and strengthen cooperative initiatives in South Asia.
It is also the riveting and poignant story of a young man's activism
and fervour and the trauma he suffered in the aftermath of India's
partition and the fratricidal conflict between India and Pakistan.
He recounts his imprisonment during Mahatma Gandhi's 'Quit India'
movement against colonial rule in 1942, his subsequent migration
from Lahore in the newly partitioned Pakistan to India in 1947,
and his work inside a refugee camp. After winning an Italian scholarship
in 1950, he joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1953, and went
on to serve as Ambassador in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe
before joining UNESCO in Paris in 1982. He was designated a UNESCO
Goodwill Ambassador on 16 November 2000, the United Nations' International
Day of Tolerance.
In recognition of his lifelong devotion to the cause of communal
harmony and peace, the biennial 'UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for
the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence' was unanimously created
by the 52-member UNESCO Executive Board. Among the Prize laureates
have been dedicated groups of women and men human right activists
from Rwanda, India and Pakistan as well as distinguished individuals
such as the Egyptian Coptic Patriarch, Chenouda III, Aung San Suu
Ky of Myanmar, and Taslima Nasreen of Bangladesh.
Sasia is the name Madanjeet
Singh has coined for South Asia's common currency in the hope that,
like the Euro, it will become the anchor of economic stability.
He strongly believes that regional cooperation is indispensable
in today's fast-moving and ultra-competitive world, and that no
country can safeguard its security and economic well-being unilaterally.
His teenage experiences of poverty led him to establish two foundations
devoted to helping marginalized and disadvantaged communities in
South Asia through scholarships and other educational projects.
He is an internationally known author of several books on art and
other subjects besides being a well-known painter and distinguished
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