Kofi Annan charms audience at Infy awards

Kofi Annan charms audience at Infy awards

Great leaders of Africa always carry a gripping moral and philosophical fibre bordering on the spiritual.

Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are worshipped for their sacrifice and conviction. Another African colossus whose stature is only growing with time is former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was here to attend the Infosys’ award function.

It was the good fortune of the winners to receive the Infosys Prize from such a great peace figure.

Kofi Annan explained why he was also known as Morgan Freeman.

He thanked Infosys’ N R Narayana Murthy for inviting him to Bangalore. “I am glad here is a man who didn’t introduce me as ‘this man needs no introduction’. I and my wife once visited Italy. We came across a friend’s place and decided to spend three months there with no newspapers, TV or radio,” he recalled.

“We just had six weeks to go when this man came to us out of the blue. Very enthusiastic, he asked, may I have your autograph? You’re Morgan Freeman, he said. I was taken aback because he thought I was the actor Morgan Freeman because we look similar. Anyways, I said I would give him an autograph, and signed as Morgan Freeman. He was very happy.”

Annan then shifted to serious issues. “India is emerging as a super power in science, research and innovation. So, India has the responsibility to develop scientific solutions for complex problems. Whether we talk about the state of the global economy, the health of our planet, or the divisions within our societies, there is no doubt that we face serious challenges. Familiar foes and new and emerging challenges threaten to reverse real progress made in recent decades,” he observed.

He also spoke about brain drain. Scientific innovation, he said, could strengthen industry and create a high-value, knowledge-based economy. This transition was well underway in India, for decades a leader in the field of information technology. India has lost many of its talented young people to research posts and jobs abroad.

“The key is to provide the conditions and incentives where they can realise their dreams at home. Opportunities for cutting-edge work and research here are multiplying. This is not only keeping many talented young people in India but also persuading those who have gone abroad to return.”

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