The Alumni Association of University of Hyderabad (UoH) organized an online interactive session with a distinguished alumnus of University of Hyderabad, Syed Akbaruddin, on 11th July, 2020 in presence of university Vice Chancellor Prof. Appa Rao Podile and Professor P Prakash Babu, Dean, School of Medical Sciences, UoH and also the general secretary of Alumni Association. Faculty and Students from the Schools participated in this programme.

Syed Akbaruddin is a 1985 batch Indian Foreign Service officer who served as India’s permanent representative at the United Nations at New York from January 2016 to April 2020. After serving different capacities in India and abroad, he was deputed at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for four years and returned to India in 2011.

Akbaruddin was the director at the Foreign Secretary’s Office of the Ministry from 2004 to 2005. He was the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India from January 2012 to April 2015 and headed the External Publicity and Public Diplomacy division of the Ministry of External Affairs in the capacity of Joint Secretary to the Government of India.

Taking a walk down the memory lane, Akbaruddin shared his memories of being a part of the university as a student of Political Science. He said, “My passion for learning and understanding International Relations ignited here in HCU. For someone like me who always wanted to study about state issues and my professors made me realize that one doesn’t need to feel alienated from their roots when they learn more about international relations. In fact, a better understanding of international relations gives you more clearer world view in understanding your roots.”

Interacting with Akbaruddin, Professor Vinod Pavarala, Department of Communication recalled his time being a student to Akbaruddin’s father and asked, “the difference between trained civil servants becoming foreign ambassador and political appointees becoming a foreign ambassador? Taking up on the query, Akbaruddin said, “If there is better talent available outside the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), we should not shy away because India’s diversity is such that a closed club cannot represent the whole of it. The talent we have today is more diversified and have the potential of bringing a lot to the table.”

Akbaruddin also talked about his experience working at United Nations. “The ones who have been a part of United Nations very well know that, UN is not an enchanted place. Countries like China and India stand very differently in UN, in terms of their perspective and approach. China is always quiet and speaks only for itself whereas, India always wants to speak for everyone,” he added.

Responding to another question by Professor Pramod K Nayar, Department of English, UoH, Akbaruddin talked about the current situation of foreign policy in India, saying, “Foreign Policy is something we should not take for granted. It is not a private body but a collective government enterprise. We need to give more time and space to the government to act on the foreign policy that has been taking an upward trajectory, however, we as country always fancy something better than what we own.”

Concluding the session, Akbaruddin advised the young minds, “One should always be confident about their values because your values cannot be crushed under any circumstances. Your intrinsic values always prevail, even when you face difficult situations.”

Contributed by Soumya Sarma, Department of Communication.

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