YANGON — Myanmar’s well-known historian and founder of the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) Dr. Thant Myint-U has been named on Thursday as a recipient of India’s Padma Shri award in the field of public affairs.
The Padma awards, one of the highest civilian honors given by India’s government, are announced annually on the eve of Republic Day.
The awards are conferred in three categories: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padama Shri. This year, there are total 85 Padma awardees: 3 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri.
Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor, is given for distinguished contribution in various fields including arts, education, medicine, public affairs and industry.
Ten individuals from ASEAN countries have been chosen in this year’s Padma Shri, aimed to promote India’s ties with the bloc.
As founder of the YHT, Dr. Thant Myint-U has sought to preserve Yangon’s architectural legacy. A grandson of the third United Nations secretary-general U Thant, he has also held numerous United Nations (UN) positions.
He is also the author of four books including Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia.
He said he is deeply honored by the very unexpected award.
“India has always had a special place in my heart since I was very young. As a student of history I’ve long appreciated the deep ties this country has had with the civilisation across the Bay. At Cambridge I focused on the study of British India and for my books India has been a big part. One of the best things I ever did was travel around India for two months in the mid-1990s, a trip I’ll never forget,” he told The Irrawaddy via e-mail.
“I hope in at least a small way this award will help further strengthen what are already very good relations between India and Myanmar.”