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Meet Arora Akanksha, 34-year-old Indian-Canadian running for UN Secretary General

Arora was born in Haryana and spent her early years in Saudi Arabia. Her parents, both doctors, had relocated there. She was in India from age 9 to 18 years, before she decided to move to Canada

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | March 2, 2021 | Updated 10:28 IST
Meet Arora Akanksha, 34-year-old Indian-Canadian running for UN Secretary General
Arora Akanksha, candidate for UN Secretary General

Arora Akanksha, a native of India and citizen of Canada, submitted a formal letter of application for the role of United Nations Secretary General for the 2022-27 term. The 34-year-old aims to replace current Secretary General Antonio Guterres, 71, veteral Portuguese statesman as well as former UN High Commissioner for refugees. Arora Akaksha does not have any diplomatic experience and has worked at the UN for around four years as an auditor who was recruited from an accounting firm.

Arora uses her family name first and prefers to be called that. She drew up a budget of $30,000 from her savings for the campaign. Arora has a website and a social media campaign to back her. "People in my profession aren't supposed to stand up to the ones in charge," she was quoted in her social media promotion.

"We are not living up to our purpose or our promise. We are failing those we are here to serve," stated the application.

Arora was born in Haryana and spent her early years in Saudi Arabia. Her parents, both doctors, had relocated there. She was in India from age 9 to 18 years, before she decided to move to Canada. She graduated from York University and worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada as an auditing manager. She was hired by the UN to help improve its internal financial controls. It is then that her admiration for the organisation turned to shock.

While working, she went back to school and attended Columbia University's graduate programme in public administration.

No country has formally endorsed her candidacy so far. Nevertheless, her candidacy has put on focus the way the agency picks its leaders. Guterres is still expected to win a second term, said a report in New York Times.

Arora said that the UN is wasteful, adrift, paternalistic, sclerotic, and patronising towards many of its younger staff members around the world. She claimed in one of her campaign videos on YouTube that only about 29 cents of every dollar from the UN's total revenue of roughly $56 billion goes to actual causes.

"We spend our resources on holding conferences, writing reports. All these frivolous activities that are advertising. We have lost course on why we exist, what we're supposed to do," she said in an interview. She added that if the UN were a private company, it would have been out of business.

Arora has taken a leave of absence from work for her campaign. She said that she has received many positive messages from co-workers. She is expecting to make her case to the UN ambassadors in the next few months.

Arora is the first person to officially challenge an incumbent seeking a second term, said the NYT. She is also the first millennial candidate. If she wins, she could become the first woman to lead the UN.

She has 'very supportive' parents, said Arora. She is known to live frugally and reads Harry Potter to relax.

Her reasons to run for the position of UN Secretary-General stemmed from her family's background as refugees. Her grandparents fled from Pakistan to India during the 1947 partition. "Refugees have no plan B, hence I have no plan B," she said, when asked about the possibility of losing to Guterres.

Also read: Extremely grateful for India's 2 lakh coronavirus vaccines for peacekeepers: UN's Antonio Guterres

Also read: Premature, unrealistic to think COVID-19 pandemic will end by 2021: WHO

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