Madanjeet Singh was born on 16 April 1924 in Lahore, present-day Pakistan. A well-known diplomat, he was also a painter, he was an internationally known author of several books on art and other subjects and a distinguished Photographer.
During Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ movement in 1942 against colonial rule, Madanjeet Singh was imprisoned. He later migrated to newly partitioned India in 1947 and worked as a volunteer in the refugee camps in Delhi, where those uprooted by partition found temporary refuge. He later joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1953 and served various countries like Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Laos, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, USSR, Consul General in South Vietnam. He served with distinction as Ambassador of India in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe before joining UNESCO in1982, based in Paris.
In 1995, in recognition of his lifelong devotion to the cause of communal harmony and peace, the UNESCO Executive Board created the biennial ‘UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence’. The decision was adopted at meetings in Paris and Fez (16 May to 4 June), to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In 2000, he was designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on the United Nations’ International Day of Tolerance.
Madanjeet Singh became known internationally with his first book, Indian Sculpture in Bronze and Stone , which was published in Rome by the Institute of the Middle and Far East in 1952. At that time he was a student of the eminent orientalist, Prof. Giuseppe Tucci, and also studied European art history with the late Prof. Lionelllo Venturi at Rome University. Indian Sculpture in Bronze and Stone> was followed in 1954 by India, the first volume in the UNESCO world art series published by New York Graphic Society. He want on to write several more books including AJANTA, Paintings of the Sacred and the Secular (1964); Himalayan Art (1968); The White Horse (1976); This, My People (1989); The Sun in Myth and Art (1993); Renewable Energy of the Sun (1996); The Time-less Energy of the Sun (1998); The Time-less Energy of the Sun (1998); The Sasia Story (2005); The Oral and Intangible Heritage of South Asia (2007); Kashmiriyat (2009) ( List of publications )
He founded the South Asia Foundation in 2000 as a regional youth movement and it has now grown to have chapters in eight SAARC countries. He was praised as a "freedom fighter. He is a Secular Humanist. The South Asia Foundation (SAF) has offered scholarships to South Asian students under various disciplines in its 8 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institutions of Excellence set up by Madanjeet Singh. Institutes in SAARC countries are
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre for Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage (UMCPACH)Kabul, Afghanistan
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (UMSAILS), Dhaka, Bangladesh
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre for South Asia Forestry Studies (UMCSAFS), Bumthang, Bhutan
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre of South Asian Journalism (UMCSAJ), Chennai, India
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asia Regional Cooperation (UMISARC), Pondicherry University, India
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh School of Green Energy Technology (UMSGET), Pondicherry University, India
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre of Development Studies and Regional Cooperation (UMCDSRC), Kathmandu, Nepal
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute for South Asian Arts (UMISAA), Lahore, Pakistan
- UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre for South Asia Water Management (UMCSAWM), Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
The UNESCO Madanjeet Singh PRIZE FOR THE PROMOTION OF TOLERANCE AND NON-VIOLENCE was created in 1995 to mark the United Nations Year for Tolerance, proclaimed at the initiative of UNESCO, and the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Mahatma Gandhi.
In recognition of a lifelong devotion to communal harmony and peace, the Prize bears the name of its benefactor Madanjeet Singh, who was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Indian Artist, Writer and Diplomat. Objective
The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence is aimed at advancing the spirit of tolerance in the arts, culture, education, science and communication.
List of Laureates of UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence are
|Year||Name of Laureates||Country||Source on SAF Website|
|2014||i) Mr Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat
ii) Mr Francisco Javier Estévez Valencia
|2011||i) Ms Anarkali Honaryar
ii) Mr Khaled Abu Awwad
|2009||i) Mr François Houtart
ii) Mr Abdul Sattar Edhi
|2006||Mr Veerasingham Anandasangaree||Sri Lanka||Link|
|2004||Ms Taslima Nasreen, Writer||Bangladesh||Link|
|2002||Ms Aung San Suu Kyi||Myanmar||Link|
|From 2000 onward Prize funded by Madanjeet Singh is upgraded to $100,000|
|2000||Pope Shenouda III (1923-2012) The Head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church||Egypt||Link|
|1998||i) Mr. Narayan Desai
ii) Ms. Shah Taj Qizilbash
|1996||Association of 32 Non-Governmental Women’s Organizations “Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe” of Rwanda||Rwanda||Link|
|1995||At its 146th session, unanimously adopted the decision to establish the "UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize||Establishment of Prize|
His many publications include:
- Culture of the Sepulchre (2012) (his experiences as Indian Ambassador to Uganda at the time of Idi Amin), ISBN 0670085731
- Kashmiriyat - The pluralistic Sufi-Bhakti-Rishi Culture, South Asia Foundation (2009)
- SASIA Story UNESCO (2005)
- Himalayan Art (UNESCO art books series), New York Graphic Society/UNESCO (1968) ASIN B000LY5LNG - revised edition Macmillan (1971), ISBN 0-333-12066-3 
- Ajanta, painting of the sacred and the secular, Edita Lausanne, 1965
- Indian foundation helps Pakistan’s poor students, Daily Times (Pakistan), Jan 4, 2004
- Mukherjee, Susmita (2009-09-09). "Q&A: 'It's worth upholding ideals that are good for mankind'". The Times Of India. p. 12. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- "Madanjeet Singh passes away". thehindu.com. 2013-01-07. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Pandey, Ramesh Nath (Nov. 09-2012 (Kartik 24, 2069)). "Book Review: Culture of the Sepulchre". New Spotlight Magazine. 06 (10). Retrieved August 2014. Check date values in:
- Perilous Pilgrimage (book review), Time magazine, Feb 14, 1969
- Bio details, South Asia Foundation
- "Diplomat, writer, philanthropist Madanjeet Singh passes away". Tehelka Daily. January 7, 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2014.