COLOMBO, July 4: Dr Sukamal Deb, a former Arunachal Pradesh official, was honoured with the prestigious "Sustainable Development Hero" award on June 30, at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo.

This accolade was presented by Dr Deshapriya S Wijetunge, Ambassador of Peace and Director General of the Sri Lanka United Nations Friendship Organisation (SUNFO).

Dr Deb, currently the Lead at Anant Centre for Development and Documentation of Crafts (ACDC) at Anant National University, Ahmedabad, had worked in the Arunachal Pradesh government for over three decades. His notable tenure includes his role as CEO of the Arunachal Pradesh Khadi & Village Industries Board before taking voluntary retirement. From 2017 to 2022, he was the head of the North East Region for the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) under the Ministry of MSME, Government of India.

During his time with KVIC, Deb initiated several groundbreaking projects, including the revival of Monpa Handmade Paper at Tawang, which garnered national and international acclaim. His efforts also included reintegrating surrendered militants, particularly women, in Assam and creating unprecedented employment opportunities during his tenure.

SUNFO, a non-political, non-racial, and non-sectarian organization dedicated to peace and harmony, recognized Dr. Deb's significant contributions to sustainable and inclusive rural development, particularly in the Northeast region of India. The organization praised his current efforts at Anant National University in promoting Indian crafts and innovative designs.

In his acceptance speech, Deb highlighted the importance of working on environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability. He emphasized the need for collective action to address global challenges, such as poverty and education. He referred to recent UN reports indicating that the world requires 44 million more teachers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of universal education by 2030.

He shared his experiences working with marginalized communities in the Northeast region of India and discussed his motivations, which stem from his upbringing in a village in Assam. He emphasized the crucial role of teachers and education in shaping society and solving global problems.

He also spoke about the innovative approaches at Anant National University, India's first DesignX University, dedicated to solving global issues through creative thinking and collaboration. The university's multidisciplinary programs in design, architecture, climate action, and visual arts aim to equip students with the knowledge and skills to address contemporary challenges.

Deb lauded Sri Lanka's unique development path, which combines social welfare with rural infrastructure, offering an alternative model of sustainable development. He expressed his commitment to education, life skills, and pursuing a more inclusive and sustainable future.

As he concluded, Deb reflected on the environmental challenges facing the world, particularly the issue of plastic pollution in oceans. He reiterated his dedication to sustainability and expressed his gratitude to SUNFO for the recognition.