UN honours foreign policy contributors with Diwali award

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The ceremony was sponsored by 60 countries this year, with Russia as a notable absentee…reports Arul Louis

Diplomats and a US politician have been honoured at the UN with the Diwali Foundation’s Power of One award recognising their contributions to promoting international relations.

The head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the UN, Olof Skoog, described the unique annual awards at the UN as the “Oscars of Diplomacy”, while introducing to the ceremony on Monday.

General Assembly President Csaba Korosi said that “the essence of Diwali transcends cultures and inspires all of us to strive for a better world” and “that is what today’s awardees have helped to do, showing the way through diplomacy”.

“We are a world in crises, a world in need of transformation… I am sure that we too possess the power to create the light and spread it across the world.”

The awardees were Eliot Engel, the former chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; former Bulgaria Interim Defence Minister Georgi Velikov Panayatov; former Permanent Representatives Kaha Imnadze of Georgia; Keisha McGuire of Grenada; and Jean Claude do Rego of Benin.

The Diwali Foundation, which grew out of efforts to get the US Postal System to issue a stamp honouring the festival of Diwali, makes the award, Power of One, recognising how one person can become the agent of change.

The ceremony was sponsored by 60 countries this year, with Russia as a notable absentee.

India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj said that Diwali is the “celebration of the eternal values that are so relevant to what we do here at the UN — goodness, caring and compassion”.

“Today, I will be privileged to co-organize the traditional #Diwali event at the @UN. The festival’s eternal values resonate with what we do at the UN as we seek to dignify all Congratulations to @RanjuBatra’s Diwali Foundation USA and to all co-organizers for your sterling work!” Kamboj tweeted.

The United Nations General Assembly recognized the significance of Diwali in its resolution 69/250 in 2014, according to a UN summary.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year, and it also represents the victory of “Good” over “Evil,” and “Light” over “Darkness.” It is an official holiday in many countries.

Diwali Foundation USA Inc. was established in 2017 to promote a peaceful and consensus-based process to achieve societal “Good,” as befits the high hopes and ideals of humanity enshrined in the United Nations Charter. (with inputs from ANI)

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