Speech of Ambassador Steiner at Order of Merit ceremony
Mar 12, 2014
Dear Prof. Seyed Hasnain,
Tonight, the highest order is yours: The Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit. The technical reason behind it: Since years, you are awardee of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize. So we had to count together Humboldt plus German President. No more, but also no less.
Dear Prof. Hasnain, you are a science pioneer, an outstanding microbiologist especially acclaimed for your extraordinary research work on Tuberculosis. And you are equally a tireless promoter of Indo-German science relations.
Born in 1954 in Gaya in Bihar, Prof. Hasnain studied micro-biology at JNU. Returning to India from Canada and the US, he joined the National Institute of Immunology in Delhi.
In 1999 he founded the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics in Hyderabad.
From 2005 onwards, Prof. Hasnain served as Vice Chancellor of the prestigious University of Hyderabad. Presently he is Distinguished Professor at the Kusuma School of Biological Sciences at the IIT in Delhi.
In 2006, the Government of India honoured his achievements in the biotechnological sciences with the Padma Shri.
Equally impressive is Prof. Hasnain’s footprint in Germany’s scientific ‘Ivy League’:
In 2009, as awardee of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize, Prof. Hasnain spent several months conducting research into bacterial pathogens at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin and at the University of Würzburg. Due to his outstanding performance, Prof. Hasnain was the first Indian to be honoured with the Robert Koch Fellowship. And on top of that, he was the first Indian to become a fellow of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
The icing on the cake: Prof. Hasnain paved the way for the office of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in India. Thanks to his guidance and his fruitful cooperation with Prof. Dr. Jörg Hacker, the then Vice President of DFG who later became its President, the office took shape in 2006. Today, DFG is one of our key players in science cooperation here in India.
Dear Prof. Hasnain, who would have thought just a few decades ago that your research area would still be so important in the 21st century? Many meanwhile believed that infectious diseases had been virtually eradicated.
The reality is: In today’s globalized world, infectious diseases spread at jet speed. I myself experienced the frantic efforts to contain the bird flu when I was Ambassador to the UN, including WHO, in Geneva back in 2005.
As diseases go global, constant scientific knowledge exchange – global and between our two countries – so well exemplified by you – is crucial. To say it in your own words: “Bacteria don’t stop at frontiers, and neither should scientists”.
It is now my honour to bestow upon you, on behalf of the Federal President of Germany, Mr Joachim Gauck, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presenting Padma Shri to Prof. Hasnain in 2006