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Former Brazil President conferred Indira Gandhi Prize

Posted on Nov 22, 03:41PM | IBNS

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former President of the Federative Republic of Brazil at a function organized in Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Thursday.

Mukherjee stated that this prestigious award celebrates the legacy of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as an untiring crusader for global peace, universal disarmament and a new international economic order.

He said Gandhi would be remembered for her untiring efforts at maintaining cohesion, unity and enhanced economic co-operation among developing nations.

Mukherjee described her as an outstanding champion of the developing world.

He stated that during President Lula's presidency relations between India and Brazil steadily progressed and the seeds were sown of a close partnership in the IBSA, BRIC, G-20 and BASIC.

The prize has been awarded to Lula for his outstanding contribution to the cause of eliminating hunger and promoting inclusive growth in Brazil, for his advocacy of stronger ties among the developing economies and for his signal contribution to the cause of the India-Brazil partnership.

The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is awarded annually to a person or organization without any distinction of nationality, race or religion, in recognition of creative efforts towards enlarging the scope of freedom and enriching the human spirit.

It consists of an award of Rs. 2.5 million and a trophy with a citation.

Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also addressed the gathering on the occasion.

Following is the text of the Prime Minister's address on the occasion:

I consider it a great personal privilege to be able to welcome back in India the former President of Brazil, His Excellency Mr. Lula da Silva. He is with us today to receive the richly deserved Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2010. Much like the person whose memory this prize celebrates, President Lula is himself is a man of indomitable spirit. This is reflected in his present visit, which he has undertaken after overcoming great personal adversity.

The conferment of this prize today in recognition of President Lula's many achievements also affords a moment to recollect the enduring qualities of the great Indian patriot and leader after whom this prize is named.

Shrimati Indira Gandhi led India with admirable vision and courage through some forbidding challenges in the fields of security and development. While she was a fierce guardian of India's unity and integrity, she was equally an ardent advocate of the well-being of the least privileged sections of society. Her words and her deeds reflected her abiding concern for the poor and the underprivileged and she championed their cause with a rare intensity. She was often ahead of her times in seeking a peaceful world, a just international order, equitable development and sustainable progress.

President Lula's life too epitomizes the endless possibilities for human achievement that come with character, conviction and commitment. He rose from difficult circumstances to be elected as the President of a great nation and to become one of his country's most beloved leaders and a statesman of global stature. It was under his stewardship that Brazil embarked on the path to becoming a stronger, more prosperous, more equitable and internationally respected nation. The country achieved a remarkable economic transformation, based on rapid growth and inclusive development brought about by President Lula's innovative policies, which helped Brazil eliminate extreme poverty, substantially reduce hunger and promote social inclusion.

President Lula has also been endowed with a clear global vision. He has been acutely aware of the growing global inter-dependence among nations and conscious that national responsibilities do not stop at the border. While he has worked tirelessly at home, he has also embraced the world wholeheartedly. Today, he remains among the world's most recognizable and respected personalities. His is an important voice on issues crucial for developing countries and emerging economies, including an open and equitable international trading system, a sustainable world, the welfare of the poor and human rights and democracy.

For me personally, it has been a privilege to work with President Lula on the international stage, not only on global issues but also in pursuit of closer and deeper bilateral relations between our two great countries. I found that our meetings not only enriched my perspective on issues, but were also of immense help in shaping our collective efforts to seek consensus on the most contentious global issues. His warmth and his wisdom, his energy and his commitment, his deep empathy for the poor and his concern for the world have left an enduring impression on me.

The India-Brazil relationship was transformed during the time that President Lula was at the helm of affairs in his country. For the two of us, however, the relationship was more than a series of agreements. We shared a belief that although our countries were separated by deep oceans, we were united by similar values, challenges and aspirations and that we were uniquely placed to work together for a better world. His ardent faith in the role and potential of IBSA was one manifestation of that vision.

Today, we are honoured that President Lula has travelled to Delhi to receive this prize named after a great leader of modern India. For Shrimati Indira Gandhi, peace, freedom, development, empowerment, equity and sustainability were indivisible. They were the essence of the human quest and the purpose of national endeavour. There are today few leaders in the world whose life and work embody that vision and none who deserves this award more than President Lula. His policies still serve as a model for developing countries and his personal story is an inspiration for millions around the world. I am confident that his continuing work for democracy and development in Latin America and Africa will touch many more lives in the years that lie ahead.

I am delighted, therefore, to congratulate an esteemed colleague, an advocate of peace and development and an international leader of great popularity and stature on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize. Most of all, I am filled with joy at seeing this award being conferred on someone I have valued and cherished as a close friend. I wish him many more years of continuing service to humankind.