Aligarh: Oscar winning music director A.R. Rahman was on Sunday conferred an honorary doctorate by the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for his contribution to the field of art and music.
Rahman, who created history by becoming the first Indian to win two Oscars for his composition in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, was honoured along with noted Urdu scholar Gopi Chand Narang at the 59th convocation of the historic institution.
Overwhelmed to have joined the likes of former presidents Zakir Hussain and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who are among the earlier recipients of the award, Rahman urged Indian youth to work towards building “a strong, harmonious India”.
“I urge young people to continue learning and to participate with me in building a strong, harmonious India and world,” Rahman said.
Crediting his success to Indian traditions and philosophy, Rahman said, “it is only with these values that my success has been realised both nationally and now after the 2009 Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe Awards, internationally.”
Describing art in general, and music in particular, as “a transcendent language that all can understand”, he said the country needed more people who enter the fields of art, culture and media.
“We see a majority of people in our country desiring to become engineers, doctors and lawyers, but we need more people in creative fields of media and art.
“In a world of mass killings, genocides and terrorism, we need more positive emotions,” Rahman said.
Ending his address with his trademark “Jai Ho”, Rahman said, “the trip to this institution had helped firm my belief that education is the key to eradicate poverty and address underdevelopment.”
Narang, who also received an honorary D.Lit, for his contribution to Urdu, said, the language of “plurality and openness” was a major factor in shaping his beliefs that reject all kind of totalitarianism.
West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who was the chief guest of the event, said youngsters should lead the country into rejecting all kinds of extremism, and advocated adherence to moderation.
The AMU awarded PhD degrees to 291 students, while 1,490 students received their master’s degrees and 251 students got bachelor’s degrees during the convocation function.
The varsity also presented 43 gold medals and 160 university medals.