By Prasun Sonwalkar
Leeds : Indian film veterans Amitabh Bachchan, Yash Chopra and Shabana Azmi were awarded honorary doctorate degrees by Leeds Metropolitan University here Saturday morning.
The awards function was held at the newly restored Great Hall on the university's Headingley campus. The university has recently forged close links with India and the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) and has several students from India.
Bachchan has also received an honorary doctorate from De Montfort University, Leicester.
Prominent among those present during the occasion Saturday were members of the Bachchan family – his son Abhishek, daughter-in-law Aishwarya and daughter Shweta Nanda.
During the ongoing IIFA weekend, the university also awarded honorary doctorate in Business Administration to India's Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.
Patel said after receiving the doctorate: "It's with great humility that I accept this award being conferred upon me, both as an individual and on behalf of the people of India. I consider it not only as an award, but as a recognition of the great partnership which we have between the UK and India."
Leeds Metropolitan University's partnership with IIFA offers students and staff the chance to rub shoulders with the leading lights of Indian cinema, particularly through the university's Northern Film School.
A university spokesperson said the partnership would strengthen educational, business, arts and sporting links with India and offer Leeds Met scholarships to the winners of global competitions.
Two academic chairs would also be established, the IIFA Chair for Global Cinema, and an India 60 Chair celebrating 60 years of Indian independence. Leeds Met is hosting and supporting a range of events in the run up to the IIFA Weekend in Yorkshire, including a charity cricket match that was played Friday.
IIFA is also supporting the Global Cool initiative to raise awareness of global warming and promote the reduction of CO2 emissions. India, home to around 1.1 billion people, is currently one of the world's most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change.
Leeds Met is also supportive of Global Cool's mission and its vice-chancellor Simon Lee said: "The ultimate challenge is to remodel ourselves, that's what IIFA, Wizcraft, Leeds Met, and the people of Yorkshire and India have in common in believing what education can do. We can remake ourselves but we can't do it alone."