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Oxford honours Cyrus Poonawalla, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Cyrus Poonawalla, founder of the Serum Institute of India, and noted Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan were among eight people who were given honorary degrees by the University of Oxford on Wednesday.

Academics Jennifer Doudna, Andrea Ghez, Shafi Goldwasser, Daniel Kahneman Simon Wessely, and Yo-Yo Ma (cellist), besides Poonawalla and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, were conferred with the degrees at a ceremony called ‘Encaenia’.

Poonawalla is the founder-chairperson of the Serum Institute of India. The Serum Institute, which was founded in 1966, is “now the world’s largest manufacturer of life-saving vaccines by the number of doses, producing more than 1.5 billion doses a year that are used in over 170 countries”.

“With Dr Poonawalla’s vision, the Serum Institute has reached the unmatched figure of protecting more than two-thirds of the infant population globally. He is also a generous philanthropist, focusing on public causes and underserved communities,” the university said.

The university described Rahat Fateh Ali Khan as a “Pakistani singer, primarily of Qawwali, a devotional music of the Muslim Sufis”.

“Born into a family whose name has become synonymous with South Asian musical tradition, he began formal training at the age of seven and has since released more than fifty albums, performed in numerous high-profile concerts across the world, and amassed a global following, achieving over one billion views online,” it said.

The university added Khan has sung “more than fifty title tracks of television serials and over one hundred film songs in both Hollywood and Bollywood”.

“Encaenia is the highlight of the university year. It gives us a wonderful opportunity to recognise achievement across the arts and sciences and most importantly it proves an opportunity to celebrate remarkable people from across the world who have exemplified the university’s commitment to research, to teaching and to improving the world around us,” Louise Richardson, Oxford vice-chancellor, said while conferring the degrees.

First Published:
Jun 27, 2019 09:22 IST

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