Top French civilian honour for Indian
Bikas Sanyal, who is the director of Maison de l'Inde or India House in Paris, has been honoured by the French government with its highest civilian award, the Legion d'Honneur.
The award, 'Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur' was bestowed on Sanyal on behalf of the French president by Jacques Friedmann, former minister and the Grand Officier of the Légion d'Honneur, in the presence of Indian ambassador Ranjan Mathai.
At the investiture ceremony, Friedmann heaped lavish praise on Sanyal for his contribution to the field of education during his long tenure with the UNESCO.
Friedmann said the French government's decision to honour Sanyal was another sign of the desire of the government to reinforce the friendly relations between the two countries and two ancient civilizations that France and India represent.
Since 2000, Sanyal has been at the head of the Maison de l'Inde that serves as a home away from home for young Indian students who come to Paris for education.
He revived the Maison de l'Inde, which was heavily indebted when he took charge. He wiped off the debt, undertook renovation and expansion and also converted it into the quasi-official Indian Cultural Centre in Paris, with the active participation of his writer wife, Priti, who doubles up as the honorary cultural attache of the Maison de l'Inde.
As an officer of the International Institute of Education Planning (IIEP) at the UNESCO, Sanyal was responsible for developing the educational infrastructure of the newly independent countries of the world.
During his tenure at the IIEP, Sanyal travelled to 75 countries around the world where he helped in building education infrastructure. He has also written nearly 40 books and a large number of articles on policies, planning and management of higher education.
His latest book, 'Innovations in Management of Universities', was published by UNESCO and translated into many languages.
Born on Jan 15, 1938 in what is now called Bangladesh, Sanyal moved to Kolkata in 1949 to continue his studies.
After a brilliant academic career both in India and United States he joined the State University of Iowa in 1966 as an associate professor in 1968.