A THAI blue-blood has won the Thomas Hart Mural Medallion from Indiana University (IU) for his great efforts in promoting sustainable development in remote areas of Thailand in the footsteps of the late Princess Mother.
HRH the Princess Sri Nagarindra, the Princess Mother, founded the Mae Fah Luang Foundation and inspired the development of rural areas in the North on a sustainable basis.
The foundation’s chairman MR Disnadda Diskul has followed the Princess’ remarkable path and was this month awarded the most prestigious IU award for its international alumni.
During the award-presentation ceremony earlier this week, Disnadda said: “This valuable award is not only for me. I can stand here today because of vision and royal wish of HRH Princess Srinagarindra… Her life-long work was for building the nation by dissolving poverty issues and providing career opportunity to people without racial and sexual discrimination. I would give this award to her.”
During the award reception, held on Monday at Plaza Athenee Bangkok, he said this was the most prestigious award that Indiana University gives to its international alumni, |who prominently contribute exceptional service to society in accordance with the university’s values.
The university’s president Michael A McRobbie, said Disnadda was an example of a person who devoted himself to social work – a leader who has really given and helped people for a long time and wanted nothing in return.
He said the university was looking to recruiting Disnadda for an exchange of knowledge, as he had extensive experience in the implementation of various royal-initiated projects in Thailand.
Disnadda has dedicated himself to royal projects including the “Nan Model” with his vision to reduce the significant income gap between the rich and poor.
For 40 years, he has been working on building farmers’ self-reliance by teaching them knowledge about managing natural resources. He also tried to manage water supplies to solve shortages and flood crises in the summer and rainy seasons that affect farmers in far distant areas.
“We [Mae Fah Luang Foundation] are doers and they [the university] are academics. We need each other,” said Disnadda.
A down-to-earth man, who is a descendant of a Thai prince, he said the university delegation was apparently surprised about various projects that Mae Fah Luang Foundation has done in Chiang Rai province. He also disclosed that the IU president would like to further discuss possibilities to initiate joint projects on sustainable development.
McRobbie said Americans had little knowledge of Asean countries and were eager to learn more about this region in various dimensions. The university then approached Thailand in a bid to have it as the centre of study about Asean.
The reason why IU was focused on Thailand, he said, is that |university alumni living here |were the most “internationally engaged” and accessible. And they hoped that close engagement would ensure smooth cooperation in the future.
McRobbie said the trip his team made to Thailand also aimed to strengthen ties with universities such as the National Institute of Development Administration and Chulalongkorn University.
“We are pursuing educational cooperation,” he said.
Disnadda is set to visit IU to seek education cooperation as a representative of the royal foundation and will take the opportunity to reacquaint himself with his one-time academic institute.
“The president is very clever. |He knows that Asean will play |an important role in the world |economy and he sees Thailand’s potential to become a hub of |Asean – rich in natural resources, knowledge, and our people,” he said.