Visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was Friday conferred an honorary degree of doctor of letters at Jamia Millia Islamia here and told his audience that “when I am in India, I am at home”.
Recalling his long professional and personal association with India, Ban told a select gathering at the 92-year-old university that his bonds with India run deep. He began his professional career in India, his son was born in India, daughter is maried to an Indian and his grandson, named Jai (an Indian name), is the “world’s finest joint venture” between India and South Korea, from where he hails.
The eighth secretary-general of the United Nations was given the Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree at an impressive ceremony by Chancellor M.A. Zaki and Vice Chancellor Najeeb Jung for his contribution to development and world peace. The event was attended by his wife, the academic community and diplomats.
Ban Ki-moon is on a three-day visit to India during which he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He will also visit Mumbai.
“My journey in foreign service started right here… exactly 40 years ago, on my first diplomatic posting. It was one of the best things that happened to me,” said Ban to a packed M.A. Ansari Auditorium.
“Ever since, I have drawn lessons from the proud history of India. I have learned deeply from your traditions. Have been inspired by your example,” he added to loud applause.
Sharing his personal history with the country, Ban said his son was born in India and years later his daughter married an Indian man.
“The couple produced what I consider to be the world’s finest joint venture between our two countries — my grandson, Jai!,” he said as the crowd burst into laughter.
“For all these reasons, I say: When I am in India, I am at home.”
Ban Ki-moon, born June 13, 1944 in Korea, has been a career diplomat. In 2011, he ran unopposed for a second term as UN secretary general and was unanimously re-elected to the post by the General Assembly.