Speaking after the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development was awarded to President Sirleaf, Dr. Singh said: "You have made history as the first elected female head of state in Africa. More importantly, you have set your country on the path of peace, stability, democracy and development after two decades of suppression, violence and conflict. You have reached out to your neighbours in recognition of the reality that Liberia's future is linked to peace and stability in its region.
"Your struggles through two decades of strife reflect the challenges of a continent in transition. Your success shows the hope and promise of your country, your region and your continent. You have therefore richly deserved the accolades and awards that have been bestowed upon you," he added.
Asserting that it is often easy to end a conflict, but hard to win enduring peace, Dr. Singh said: "It is sometimes easier to end violence and injustice, but more difficult to heal and to reconcile. Getting political freedom does not always lead to sustained democracy. You and your nation have shown great wisdom in addressing these challenges and we wish you continued success on that global path."
"Today, as India celebrates your life, your vision and your efforts, we also promise to be a reliable and enduring partner and friend in Liberia's peaceful development. We are grateful to you and your people for hosting a small community of Indians and a growing number of Indian investors in Liberia," he said.
"Our two nations are committed to forge a partnership that will demonstrate that neither asymmetry of size nor the challenge of distance matters, when nations with shared values and mutual respect work together for mutual benefit and the larger good of humanity," he added.
Congratulating President Sirleaf for receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize, Dr. Singh said: "I congratulate an ardent democrat and a champion of peace, who has both transformed Liberia and is a symbol of a resurgent Africa, on receiving the Indira Gandhi Prize. Madam President, you serve as an inspiration not just for women but for all those who seek a better life for their fellow human beings."
"Every recipient of this award has left an indelible imprint on history and made a difference to the lives of people, societies and nations. This year, we honour a person who not only meets those criteria, but also embodies the character, the convictions and the courage of the personality after whom this prestigious award is named. She also holds dear the very same causes that were particularly important and dear to Shrimati Indira Gandhi," he added.
Emphasizing that today, India's relations with Africa are defined by emotions, values and interests, Dr. Singh further said: "An ocean separates us but a shared destiny unites us. Ours is a natural partnership between people with common concerns and values. It is imperative for our progress and development and for shaping a world that accommodates our aspirations. We feel for Africa's challenges, and we rejoice in the successes we see there."
"Therefore, your acceptance of the award and your presence here today add a very special lustre to this occasion. The remarkable story of your life, Madam President, is a reminder of the timeless truth that an enterprising human spirit driven by a great moral cause can overcome any adversity and challenge," he added.
--ANI (Posted on 12-09-2013)