Vietnam scientist Thuan awarded Kalinga Chair

Bhubaneswar: Prof Trinh Xuan Thuan of Vietnam was honoured today with the prestigious Kalinga Chair award at Indian Science Congress here marking 60th anniversary of UNESCO Kalinga Prize for popularisation of science. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik awarded Thuan at a function jointly organised by UNESCO, Paris, Kalinga Foundation Trust, Odisha, Ministry of HRD and department of science and technology of both state and central governments.

While winner of the Unesco Kalinga Prize-2011 Dr Rene Raul Drucker Colin of Mexico, could not attend the function held at 99th Indian Science Congress venue due to delayed communication to him about the selection, organisers said he would be honoured later by the Prime Minister at Delhi.

As part of the celebration of Unesco Kalinga Prize`s 60th year, 11 former winners of the coveted prize were also felicitated by the chief minister at the conference attended by Gretchen Kalonji, assistant director general of Unesco, Paris and Yoslan Nur, coordinator of Unesco Kalinga prize. Kalinga Chair is awarded to one among the winners of the Unesco Kalinga Prize. The chair was introduced by the central government to mark 50th anniversary of Kalinga Prize. Prof Thuan was winner of the UNESCO Kalinga Prize in 2009.

Holder of Kalinga Chair travels to India for a period of two to four weeks as a guest of the central government and delivers talks on popularisation of science at various educational institutions. The chair also comprises a token honorarium of USD 5,000. Recalling his legendary father Biju Patnaik`s contribution towards science, the chief minister turned emotional while addressing the function.

Biju Patnaik was instrumental in instituting Kalinga Prize at the global level with the help of UNESCO to honour scientists for their contribution in popularising science among common people across the globe. Patnaik`s voice was chocked as he recalled how his father in 1951 initiated steps to create Kalinga Prize which was being given annually since 1952. The Director General of UNESCO selects the prize winner out of nomination received of a four member international jury.

UNESCO Kalinga Prize had so far been given to 66 eminent personalities from 23 countries. The prize winners include seven Nobel laureates and five Indians. Winner of the UNESCO Kalinga Prize gets a cash award of USD 20,000, UNESCO Albert Einstein Silver Medal and a citation, said Kalinga Foundation Trust chairman B C Patnaik.