Meet Arora Akanksha, An Indian-American Eyeing United Nations Top Post


New York: Arora Akanksha. Not a name that rings a bell, right?

Well, she could soon be hogging the headlines.

An Indian American who was born in Haryana, the 34-year-old Akanksha has announced that she will run for United Nations (UN) secretary-general’s post and will be the only candidate to challenge incumbent António Guterres.

United Nations Security Council election will be held in mid-2021, following which the Secretary General is appointed by a majority vote of the General Assembly.

A UN staff member, Akanksha works as an audit coordinator for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). She doesn’t have any national backing for her candidacy yet, but Akanksha has already launched her grassroots campaign called UNOW on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Explaining her reason to run for the high-profile post, Akanksha said Guterres has failed as secretary general of the United Nations.

“He’s failed as a leader in reforming the institution. He’s failed as a leader to refugees; he was leading the refugee agency before coming here, so he knows the plight of refugees. He knows their pain, hope, better than most of us, because he served them. Yet when he came, he didn’t make any decision to prioritise resources to them,” she said.

Akanksha was just six years old when her family moved to Saudi Arabia. She subsequently obtained a Bachelor’s degree in administrative studies from York University in Toronto and a Master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

An Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) with a Canadian passport, Akanksha is self-financing her campaign as revealed in one of her campaign videos.

“I had been part of the reforms team for two years, and I had access to the upper echelon of our leadership,” Akanksha said, adding that she saw “how they are so risk-averse.”

Despite lack of experience in foreign and government affairs, Akanksha feels that her age will be an advantage. “I think something we have to realise is half of the world population is under 30 right now,” she said.

“So you would want a leader who knows what it’s like to be in that age group to be suffering, not having the economic freedom to do everything you want, not having the ability to get the opportunities that you deserve. If you want to see different results, you have to do things differently,” she observed.

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