Former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam has been awarded an honorary degree by Scotland's prestigious University of Edinburgh for his contribution to science and technology.
"The award – presented by University Principal and Vice Chancellor Timothy O'Shea – is in recognition of Dr Kalam's outstanding contribution to science and technology, and his commitment to helping transform India into a developed nation by 2020," the varsity said today.
Kalam, who served as the president of India from 2002 to 2007, received the degree during a dinner held in his honour on May 15.
The 82-year-old, who is regarded as the father of India's missile programme, has in recent years campaigned to highlight the plight of India's rural poor, advocating the use of technology to address social and economic inequalities.
Kalam also delivered the keynote address at the inaugural conference of the University's Edinburgh India Institute, that will help coordinate the work of Edinburgh academics who are working with a wide range of partners across India.
"Today, with the inaugural conference of Edinburgh India Institute, this university is adding a new dimension to its contributions, by bringing together Scotland and India, who share a rich past and a glorious heritage of civilisation.
"I am happy the centre aims to encourage a greater awareness of India in Scotland, and to build Scotland's cultural, business and academic ties with India. It is also aiming to be a platform to bring together researchers from Scotland and India for mutual benefit including joint PhD programmes in diverse areas such as medicine/veterinary medicine, science and engineering and humanities and social sciences," Kalam said.
He appreciated that institution level partnerships are already in place with IIT Madras, Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and congratulated the people behind "this unique institute representing the confluence of values and cultures of two civilisations".
O'Shea said: "It is a privilege to welcome Dr Kalam to Edinburgh and to present him with an honorary degree.
"It recognises his extraordinary work as a scientist, as a figurehead for his country and for working to tackle rural poverty and injustice over many years."
University of Edinburgh is Scotland's biggest university and is ranked as one of the world's top 20 universities.