(MIzzima) – Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, accepted an honorary degree on Friday from Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, prior to his visit to Burma this weekend.
In his remarks, Ban recalled his first diplomatic posting 40 years ago in India.
“It was one of the best things that happened to me,” he said. “Ever since, I have drawn lessons from the proud history of India.”
Noting that his son was born in India and his daughter is married to an Indian, he said he feels like he is going home when he visits India.
Noting he would visit Burma, he said there are worries everywhere “about economic uncertainties … concerns about corruption … tensions over growing gaps within societies …and questions about whether institutions are up to the task.”
The old order is breaking down, he said, and we do not yet know the shape of the world to come.
“You are the world’s largest democracy,” he told his university audience. “You are an emerging economic leader. You are a superpower on the information superhighway. You are a beacon for the world – proving that democracy and development are one and the same path.”
As the world’s third largest troop contributor to U.N. peacekeeping, he said India was the “backbone of our efforts to prevent further conflict and keep peace worldwide.”
Beyond that, he said India is a union of cultures, religions, and languages all coming together within the fabric of tolerance, understanding and collaboration.
Tolerance is being tested around the world, he said, and it is crucial for India to pass the tests, he said, “not only for the country but for our world in which your profile is so distinct and admired.”