Douglas Alexander, UK secretary of state for international development, has presented honorary OBE to Dr Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, in recognition of a career dedicated to the struggle against global poverty.
Presenting the award, Alexander said: "I am delighted to present Dr Daleep Mukarji with the honorary OBE in recognition of his lifetime of work helping the worlds’ poor. His leadership of Christian Aid has transformed thousands of lives and has built a movement of people determined to challenge inequality and injustice. His determination to tackle poverty is an inspiration to us all."
Anti-poverty activists hope that the government's willingness to hand out awards and enjoy photo opportunities will be matched by further action in relation to the flagging G8 agenda and Britain's own actions on aid, trade, development and climate change.
Christian Aid, which works with people of all backgrounds and creeds, is known for combining partnership with local relief and development organisations across the world with advocacy action on key policy issues. They have not been afraid to criticise and lobby governments and international institutions.
"I am delighted to have received the award particularly as a non-UK citizen," said Dr Mukarji in receivng the award.
He continued: "Starting out as a doctor in Vellore in India many years ago I had little idea that I would end up being the director of one of the UK’s largest development agencies. But what I did realise was how much needed to be done to help and to change the lives of poor people.
"What has influenced my life has been a passion for justice and for alleviating poverty. In this I have had the opportunity at Christian Aid to work with fantastic colleagues and with very dedicated partners overseas.
"I believe this honorary OBE acknowledges the contribution of many as we have attempted to have impact on poverty eradication and influencing policies. I thank God for the wonderful opportunities I have had, not just to put my faith into action, but the privilege of leading this outstanding organisation.
"We have a loyal supporter base – whose commitment and generous giving make Christian Aid’s work possible," the Christian Aid director added.
Dr Mukarji joined Christian Aid in 1998 and led the organisation through its 60th anniversary in 2005. He was in India when the 2004 tsunami struck and worked on the ground helping distribute aid.
He also launched a new strategy ‘Turning Hope into Action’ to help Christian Aid meet the challenges of the new century.
Dr Mukarji has been involved with all the major anti-poverty campaigns of the last ten years including Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History.
He was the chair of many groups including the Trade Justice Movement and BOAG, the British Overseas Aid Group. He was also a member of the World Trade Organisation NGO advisory board, is a trustee of the Disasters Emergency Committee and is a member of the BBC Appeals Advisory Committee.
Dr Mukarji, who is married with three children, began his career working in a leprosy hospital in India. In 1977 Daleep started a rural health and community development programme near Vellore called RUHSA which was funded by Christian Aid.
He went on to be secretary of the Christian Medical Association of India as well as executive secretary for health, community and justice at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.
Daleep Mukarji has studied public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1975) and social policy for developing countries at the London School of Economics.
In 2005 he was included on a list of the 100 most influential Asians in Britain. In July 2006, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Aberdeen for his work on poverty eradication and social justice.