South Asia

Amitabh Bachchan finally accepts Australia honour

Amitabh Bachchan receives his honorary doctorate in Australia
Image caption Mr Bachchan said that he was confident that large numbers of Indians would be educated in Australia

Bollywood film star Amitabh Bachchan has been awarded an honorary doctorate for his services to cinema by an Australian university.

He was presented with the award by the Queensland University of Technology.

Mr Bachchan turned down the award two years ago to protest against attacks on Indian students in Australia which led to tensions between Canberra and Delhi.

But the 69-year-old said he felt that the attacks were "an aberration" that have now been resolved.

Throughout 2009 there was a spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney. Delhi said the violence was often accompanied by racist verbal abuse and was fuelled by drugs and alcohol.

But Mr Bachchan said that the time had now come to accept "a great honour".

The doctorate - presented to him in Brisbane - was awarded for his "outstanding contribution to creative industries over several decades".

The actor has just completed work in Sydney on a new film version of The Great Gatsby featuring Leonardo Di Caprio and directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann.

Mr Bachchan, who has acted in more than 180 Indian films over 40 years, is India's most popular actor. He was voted the greatest star of the millennium in a 1999 BBC poll.

He said that he hoped ties between India and Australia would be strengthened.

"Education helps us to strengthen and fortify convictions not to be swayed by preoccupations of caste and creed, race and religion," he said.

"I do believe large numbers of Indian students seek education in Australia and I hope that continues to grow."

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