Singer-musician bestowed ICCR’s Distinguished Alumni Award

Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj hands over the 2021 award of ICCR’s Distinguished Alumni Award to Sonam Dorji



The Executive Director of Music of Bhutan Research Centre, Sonam Dorji, aka Kheng Sonam, was bestowed with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Distinguished Alumni Award for 2021.

The award was handed over by the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Ruchira Kamboj on 26 May this week at the India House Estate, Thimphu.

Sonam Dorji was awarded the ICCR’s Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his significant accomplishments in his field and outstanding contribution to the promotion of understanding, goodwill, and friendship between Bhutan and India.

The Award has also been granted for his attainments in the field of music and performing arts, especially as an ICCR alumnus. The Award comprises a plaque and citation specially designed and curated by ICCR.

Sonam Dorji said that it has never been easy because nominations are received globally from various embassies around the world.

He said since the award is conferred upon nationals from all over the world it is so demanding and that one must have tremendous contributions and to the understanding and goodwill between India and the respective country.

“In the first place, you need to have many good qualities in order to get yourself nominated. One must also have outstanding professional achievements, significant contributions to your country as well as internationally,” Sonam Dorji said.

The singer-musician added that holding a leadership position within the organization, proving innovative in your field, and reaching the pinnacle of success with every positive impact can all play a crucial role in getting an award. 

“I never expected that I will be recognized as a recipient of this award. I am overwhelmed and deeply touched by the award; it was a great privilege to receive the award from the Ambassador of India to Bhutan,” he said.

Sonam said that he would like to express his sincere appreciation to the Indian Embassy for submitting his candidature and for bestowing upon him such a prestigious award. “This is a very special moment and so proud to be receiving this award, indeed a pride for Bhutan,” an elated Sonam said.

Thanking the Indian government for the recognition, Sonam said his morale is boosted by the award and that he will work towards achieving more successes and contribute in the field.

“I will dedicate my efforts for the promotion and better understanding of Indo-Bhutan relationships,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sonam is a master musician, vocalist, and composer who play several instruments originating both from Bhutan and India. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in music from the Maharaja Sayaji Rao University of Baroda with an ICCR scholarship awarded to him during the 2021-2022 academic sessions.

He is the second Bhutanese to receive the ICCR’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the first being former Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji in 2018.

Sonam Dorji studied for more than six years in two of India’s renowned educational institutions of Visva Bharati University from 1999-2003 and the Maharaja Sayaji Rao, University of Baroda from 2006-2007 through the ICCR Scholarship.

A press release from the Indian Embassy states that the ICCR’s Distinguished Alumni Award was instituted in 2015 to recognize foreign students who have studied in various Indian universities under the ICCR sponsored or supported scholarship schemes.

It said it recognizes individuals who have made exemplary contributions in diverse fields, especially towards the promotion of understanding, enhancing goodwill and friendship between India and their respective country.

The Indian embassy said the objective of instituting these awards is not only to acknowledge the contribution of foreign scholars in promoting Indian cultural heritage in their respective countries, but also to make the young academicians aware of India’s excellence in the academic fields.

These awards have facilitated immense goodwill about India in foreign countries and renewed the interest of young scholars in India.