Madanjeet Singh; A Humanist and Philanthropist says, The Kabul Times

In the media Kabul, Afghanistan - 25th April 2015

Madanjeet Singh, 1924 - 2013
Born in Lahore on April 16, 1924, late Madanjeet Singh was graduated from the Lahore government college and then earned M.Sc. in Technical Chemistry from the Italian Institute for Middle and Far East in Rome. Revealing his eclectic and diverse interests early in life, he took a diploma in Buddhist Art and Culture from Rome University and a diploma in the European history of Arts in Rome University.

Madanjeet Singh joined the Indian Foreign Service (1953 - 1982), and served as diplomat in Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Laos, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, USSR, Consul General in South Vietnam, and as Ambassador in Colombia, High Commissioner in Uganda, Ambassador in Rwanda, Ambassador in Burundi, and Ambassador in Finland.

Appointed to the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris, as Director in the Cultural Sector (1982 to 1985) — in charge of Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind; History of Africa; History of the Caribbean; History of the Civilization of Central Asia; History of Celtic group of languages; and The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theater. Supervised the Cultural Sector publications, books and periodicals. Prepared reports on the 1982 World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico City; the Terminal Report on Amarbayasgalan Monastery in Magnolia; and the restoration and preservation of ancient manuscripts in the Museum of Ulan Bator. Represented UNESCO at a number of international conferences on education and culture.

Madanjeet Singh was the author of several books and monographs including the Indian Sculpture in Bronze and Stone (1951), Etruscan Cave Painting (1953), India, Painting from Ajanta Caves (1954), Indian Miniatures (1963), Ajanta, Paintings of the Sacred and the Secular (1964), Himalayan Art (1968), The White Horse (1976), Madanjeet, The Early Sixties (1986), This My People (1989), The Sun in Myth and Art (1993), Renewable Energy of the Sun (1996), The Timeless Energy of the Sun (1998), The Sasia Story (2005) and The Oral and Intangible Heritage of South Asia (2007).

A painter and a photographer of international repute, his paintings were exhibited at the 1953 Biennale in Venice, Italy, and purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden, and by private collectors. He also produced an award-winning documentary in Rome on the Buddhist paintings in Ajanta caves, and recently a DVD on The Oral and Intangible Heritage of South Asia.

Imprisoned in 1942 during Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India movement. He declined to accept a Padma award offered by Government of India in 2006, as he believed that there is no higher award than a Tamra Patra which he received as a Freedom Fighter on 12th August 1972.
In recognition of his lifelong devotion to the cause of communal harmony and peace, the bienniall “UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence” was unanimously created by the 52-member UNESCO Executive Board at their meetings in Paris and Fez (16th May to 4th June 1995), marking the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Where in 2009, Ms Anarkali Honaryar won the prize from Afghanistan. In 2000, Madanjeet was designated as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on the United Nations’ International Day of Tolerance.

In 1995, Madanjeet Singh founded Sumitra Foundation (SF) for family planning and protection of the environment in India and South Asia Foundation (SAF) in 2000, to promote regional cooperation among the eight SAARC countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

He was passionate in his commitment to South Asian regional cooperation and solidarity on a secular, democratic, and progressive basis. This commitment was backed by an extraordinary personal financial contribution to the South Asia Foundation (SAF), which he founded in 2000, worked for tirelessly, and mentored until the day he died. This organization, which is focused on providing educational opportunities for young women and men, has active chapters across the region.

The South Asia Foundation (SAF) is a secular, non-profit and non-political organization, which was established in September 2000. Its objective is to uphold its core values of regional cooperation and peace through education and cultural interaction between the eight SAARC countries.

SAF has been admitted into official relationship with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and recognized as an Apex Body of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Its aims, objectives, and activities are in conformity with the spirit, purpose, and principles of the two international organizations.

 Among the important SAF projects that promote regional cooperation include the jointly designed courses by open universities in SAARC region; the SAF Scouts Friendship Camps; the SAF SOS Environmental Camps: the establishment of the institutions of excellence in SAARC countries, affiliated to the proposed South Asian University; and group scholarships to enable students from the eight SAARC countries to study together. He ardently believed that the survival and future of South Asia depends entirely on regional cooperation. Madanjeet Singh’s devotion to this cause is manifested by the fact that he has committed to SAF his considerable wealth generated by the sale of stocks of Art Technology Group (ATG) and an American software company created by his son Jeet Singh, a trustee of South Asia Foundation.

R-Left: Dr. Raheen former SAF-Afghanistan Chairman, Ex-president Hamid Karzai, Madam France SAF Trustee and late Madanjeet Singh former UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founder of SAF, in ARG, Oct 2003.
The history and culture of Afghanistan are profoundly interwoven with South Asia. When the Taliban Regime destroyed the colossal fifth-century Bamyan Buddha and other priceless works of Afghanistan’s art, the South Asia Foundation pledged for safeguarding of Afghanistan’ cultural heritage. In a meeting held in Paris on 16th June 2003, and was attended by former minister of information and culture of Afghanistan, Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen, decisions made to establish SAF-Afghanistan chapter. Ex-minister conveyed the decision to ex-president, Hamid Karzai, to accept the membership of SAF in the country.

On the invitation by Dr. Raheen, Madanjeet Singh and his wife madam France visited Kabul on October 2003.
They met with King Zahir Shah and Hamid Karzai, where the ex-president accepted Afghanistan to be the member of South Asia Foundation and appointed Dr. Raheen as the first chairperson.

They agreed on establishing UNESCO-MADANJEET SINGH Center for Preservation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage (UMCPACH) to be used for training of specialists in South Asian Heritages which would be funded by SAF. The center was inaugurated on 13th July 2006 and UNESCO assigned two experts, Dr. Tej Singh retired director of the National Research Laboratory for conservation of Cultural property (NRLC), Lucknow, India and Mr. Robert Knox of the British Museum, London to visit Kabul and submit a report on the Institute’s administration. Since its inauguration, the center has held 19 rounds of professional training courses for the employee of ministry of information and culture in the capital Kabul and in the provinces working in the field of historical monuments, archeology, museums and tourism related organizations. 

The center has also organized awareness programs on cultural heritage to the high school teachers in Kabul to further extend the idea of respecting and preserving the country’s cultural heritages. SAF-Afghanistan in coordination with UMCPACH helped the National Theatre of Afghanistan and held The 8th National Theatre festival in the country with a training course to performers which received wide participants across from Afghanistan and diplomatic missions’ representatives in Kabul. SAF has also organized the book binding training courses for the employee of National Archive to help preserve historical manuscripts. SAF and UMCPACH in a close cooperation intend to extend the Cultural Heritage Awareness workshops to the provinces of the country in the current year so that further rise the idea and help protect the country’s rich cultural heritage and civilization. 
{UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute of South Asia Regional Co-operation, Pondicherry, Chennai India.}
 {UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute of South Asia Regional Co-operation, Pondicherry, Chennai India.}


UNESCO MADANJEET Institutes of Excellences of South Asia Foundation provide scholarships on Master and Bachelor degree levels as well as short term courses to youth from South Asia, including Afghanistan in the eight SAARC countries. The institutions are UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre for Preservation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage (UMCPACH) in Afghanistan which provide short term courses of cultural heritage as well as awareness programs, UNESCO Madanjeet Singh South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (UMSAILS) in Bangladesh, UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre for South Asia Forestry Studies (UMCSAFS) in Bhutan, UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre of South Asian Journalism (UMCSAJ), UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute of Kashmir Studies (UMIKS), UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asia Regional Cooperation (UMISARC), UNESCO Madanjeet Singh School of Green Energy Technology (UMSGET) in India,  UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Climate Research Centre (UMCRC) in Maldives,  UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre of Development Studies and Regional Cooperation (UMCDSRC) in Nepal, UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asian Arts (UMISAA) in Pakistan and  UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre for South Asia Water Management (UMCSAWM) in Sri Lanka.

 So far dozens of Afghans have been benefited from SAF Scholarships and found acquaintance with South Asian culture and students under various disciplines in 12 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institutions of Excellence which the initiative was taken by former diplomat, write, artist, philanthropist and Goodwill Ambassador since 2000, Madanjeet Singh, 88, who passed away in Beaulieu-sur-Mer in South of France on January 6, 2013.