The man who helped to run the world’s biggest democratic election has been named Southern Cross University’s International Alumnus of the Year at last night’s Impact Awards.
Ashok Lavasa, one of Indias three election commissioners, helped to mobilise more than 900 million voters over 75 days as part of that country’s last general election.
This included an unprecedented numbers of women, people with disabilities and transgender voters.
‘The world faces three challenges: preserving, promoting and strengthening democracy; proceeding with development, especially in impoverished countries, while preserving the environment; and finding resources,’ said Mr Lavasa, who travelled from India with his wife to accept the award.
‘So in the process of preserving the environment I don’t accept that development should not take place.
‘Remember the International Labour Organisation moto, poverty anywhere in the world is a threat to prosperity everywhere.’
‘I would urge a university like Southern Cross to work in this direction: that while we employ technology for development, how do we maintain the ethics or the ethnical core that is going to save this world and planet?’
Mr Lavasa has held a number of leadership positions during his 37 years as a public servant in India since graduating with a MBA from Southern Cross University in 1997.
He has been finance secretary; environment secretary; joint secretary in the economic affairs department; and principal secretary of the power and renewable energy department.
Mr Lavasa was the leader of India’s official delegation at COP 21 when the Paris Agreement was negotiated in 2015 and has been directly involved in facilitating foreign direct investment, multilateral and bilateral financing for social sector programs and infrastructure development and combating climate change and desertification.
Other winners at the Impact Awards included soldier-turned-inventor Neale Sutton, who was named Alumnus of the Year, and innovative maths teacher Holly Millican who has pioneered alternative mathematics teaching methods.
Ms Millican was named Young Alumnus of the Year.