Madanjeet Singh was born on 16 April 1924 in Lahore, present-day Pakistan. He is an internationally known author of several books on art and other subjects, closely interwoven with UNESCO’s programmes, principles and ideals. He served as Ambassador of India in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe.
In 1995, in recognition of his lifelong devotion to the cause of communal harmony and peace, the UNESCO Executive Board unanimously created the biennial ‘UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence’. The decision was adopted at meetings in Paris and Fez (16 May to 4 June), to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
‘In the year 2000, Madanjeet Singh created the South Asia Foundation (SAF) to promote sustainable cultural, educational and economic development throughout the region,’ wrote Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura in a message on the occasion of the the launching of the Institute of Kashmir Studies in Srinagar. It is ‘the eighth institution of excellence established and funded by South Asia Foundation to date. Among Mr. Singh’s numerous other undertakings, allow me to mention the establishment of the Kabul-based Madanjeet Singh Institute of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, whose principal objective is to provide much needed training for Afghan preservation specialists.’
The UNESCO Director General stated: ‘Mr Singh’s personal commitment to fostering culture, dialogue mutual understanding and peace has served as a great source of inspiration to people of many different nations, cultures and religions. In recognition of his generosity and untiring efforts to promote these noble objectives, which are also those of UNESCO, I had the previlege of designating Mr. Singh as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on 16 November 2000.’