Sheikh Hasina receives Indira Gandhi peace award
New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was Tuesday conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to peace and democracy.
"It is but rare in history that a nation`s birth and political life is synonymous with the life and destiny of an individual. In the case of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh, it is indeed so," President Pratibha Patil said while conferring the award at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
"By her sheer dedication to her country, her strong determination and leadership, she has shaped and continues to shape her country`s onward path of progress and development."
The prize carries a cash award of Rs 25 million and a citation.
Hasina, 62, who is on her first visit to India after assuming power last year, was chosen for her contribution to the promotion of democracy and pluralism, her determined drive to alleviate poverty and secure social and economic justice for her people through inclusive and sustainable development.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "Bangladesh`s return to democracy owes a great deal to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s courage, sacrifice and unshakeable belief in the will of the people... By championing the cause of democracy and pluralism, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given the people of Bangladesh the means to realize their true potential and strengthen peace and harmony in the country."
After her re-election in December last year, Hasina embarked on her "Vision 2021", aimed at transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021, by eliminating poverty and inequity.
In her brief speech, President Patil also said the return of Prime Minister Hasina to the helm of affairs had come at a critical juncture in the country`s history.
"The spectacular electoral victory of the Awami League under her leadership and the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh have been welcomed the world over. She has set for herself and her government an ambitious agenda of economic growth, welfare and social justice for her people."
Prime Minister Singh also echoed the same sentiments.
"Prime Minister Hasina has worked tirelessly through her political career for the welfare and socio-economic development of the people of Bangladesh; but she has been an equally tireless proponent of regional peace, security and progress," the prime minister added.
He said that Sheikh Hasina has been working towards emancipation of women in her country besides on other socio-economic issues.
"As part of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has paid particular attention to building on Bangladesh`s success in removing gender disparity in enrolment of boys and girls in primary and secondary schools. She herself manifests the emancipation of women in Bangladesh and their determination to be equal partners in shaping their country`s future.
"One of the prime minister`s primary concerns has been food security. She has sought a global agreement for development of agriculture, and attainment of food self-sufficiency in developing countries, particularly the Least Developed Countries. She has spoken passionately on behalf of developing countries threatened by climate change and worked to build global consensus on the need to tackle this problem," Manmohan Singh said.
The award was introduced by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust in 1986, two years after the Indian prime minister was assassinated.
Past recipients of the award include former US president Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Namibia`s independence movement hero Sam Nujoma.
The last recipient was Mohamed El Baradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
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