The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today expressed deep sadness over news of the death of Indian artist and writer Madanjeet Singh, a strong advocate for tolerance and non-violence who passed away on Sunday.
“Mr. Singh’s untiring efforts and personal commitment to fostering mutual understanding and peace have served as a great source of inspiration to people of many different nations, cultures and religions,” UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, said in a news release. “UNESCO has lost a true friend and great supporter.”
Mr. Singh had been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since November 2000, when the agency recognized his work promoting tolerance and mutual understanding worldwide. Five years before, the agency had also created the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence to honour his lifelong devotion to communal harmony and peace. The creation of the prize coincided with the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mr. Singh also started the South Asia Foundation as a youth movement to promote sustainable cultural, educational and economic development throughout the region. According to the UN agency, the Foundation now has a presence in all eight South Asian countries and offers scholarships in twelve UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institutions of Excellence.
“I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Madanjeet Singh as well as the Government and people of India for the loss of this great humanist, this great defender of peace,” said Ms. Bokova.
“The passing of Madanjeet Singh is a loss to India, to the region, and to all people across the world,” she added. “Let us take strength from the message of dialogue and mutual understanding that he embodied and that he promoted to strengthen the foundations for peace and tolerance.”
According to UNESCO, its Goodwill Ambassadors are an “outstanding group of personalities” who have agreed to use their talent and status to help focus the world's attention on the work of the United Nations in education, science, culture and communication.