JAMMU, Jan 25: Eminent Scholar of the State, a veteran columnist associated with Daily Excelsior a leading newspaper of J&K State and a dedicated social activist, Dr Kashi Nath Pandita is among the 75 noted personalities of the country who were conferred with Padma Shri Award one of the highest civilian awards of the country on the eve of 68th Republic Day.
Besides, seven distinguished personalities each from various fields all over the country were coffered with Padam Vibhushan and Padam Bushan awards. Kashi Nath Pandita who is popularly known as K N Pandita is the lone awardee from the State this year. The award has been conferred to him for his rich contribution in various fields.
Dr Pandita is the first scholar of the State who won Ph.D Degree from Tehran University way back in 1962. He has been on the teaching faculty of Kashmir University, and has made valuable contribution in setting up the Center of Central Asian Studies in Kashmir University in 1976 in deference to the wishes of the then Chief Minister and the UGC. In 1982, he visited the Central Asian Republic of Tajikistan on the invitation of the President of Tajik Academy of Sciences.
This was his first month-long visit to Central Asia an later on he kept visiting Moscow and Central Asian Republics regularly in connection with his academic pursuits for a long time. His travelogue of Central Asia titled My Tajik Friends was translated into Russian and distributed by the Tajik Academy of Sciences. This book won him the prestigious Sovietland Nehru Award in 1987. In 1994 Dr. Pandita was awarded Certificate of Merit by the President of India for his contribution to classical studies and Indo-Central Asian cultural relations. He has also been honoured with Saadi Award by the Iranian Embassy in New Delhi.
Apart from literature, Dr. Pandita has evinced keen interest in journalism and social service. As a columnist he has been writing in various journals but for last 27 years he has been a regular columnist of Daily Excelsior, which has published scores of his commentaries/write ups and articles, which show his depth of knowledge and power of analysis on current situation in the region. Daily Excelsior has been the major vehicle of carrying his views to the wide reading public.
An important part of Dr Pandita’s life has been his dedication to social cause. He has pleaded the cause of Internally Displaced Persons not only of the State but also of many other parts of the world especially in African countries, which made him very popular at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva and among the circle of human rights activists in different parts of the world. He has delivered lectures in eight US and two Japanese Universities.
Dr Pandita has been speaking about terrorism in Kashmir on numerous world foras like European Parliament in Brussels, Second Word Human Rights Conference in Vienna, South Asian Caucus in Washington and at a number of other places.
Dr Pandita has a number of publications to his credit, most prominent of these are A Chronicle of Medieval Kashmir, A Muslim Missionary in Medieval Kashmir, Iran and Central Asia, Avicenna Ibn Sina), Hafiz Shirazi (Urdu). He has published a large number of research and critical articles in various prestigious journals in the country and abroad. President of Tajikistan has made him honorary member of the prestigious Tajik Cultural Organization called Paywand. He is associated with numerous literary and social organizations and is looked upon with respect in intellectual circles.
Besides Pandita, Altaf Ahmed Khan of J&K was confered with Jeevan Raksha Padak.