The Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 was conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind in Delhi on Tuesday.
The awards have been given to Vivekananda Kendra (2015), Akshaya Patra Foundation and Sulabh International (Jointly for 2016), Ekal Abhiyan Trust (2017)and Yohei Sasakawa (2018).
Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari (2015)
The Vivekananda Kendra was founded by Eknath Ranade in 1972.
The Kendra operates over 800 activity centres across India while the Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalayas educates 45,500 children in tribal areas of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Andaman Islands.
The centres also run more than 200 balwadis, health care units and medical camps, youth and women leadership development programs, skill development programs.
According to the citation, it adopted over 30 green technologies to reduce the carbon foot prints of buildings and has also revived over 30 traditional water bodies in Rameswaram.
It has also promoted sustainable agriculture, generation of renewable energy (under Shakthi Surabhi Scheme) and indigenous Siddha Varma medical system where food becomes medicine.
The Gandhi Peace Prize recognises the contribution of Vivekananda Kendra in education, rural development, and development of natural resources.
Akshaya Patra Foundation (2016)
Akshaya Patra Foundation started in 2000 to address classroom hunger by providing a nutritious mid-day meal to children in government schools.
The programme began with the feeding of 1,500 children in five schools in Bengaluru. Today, 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states and 40 locations of the country benefit from the initiative.
While serving mid-day meals for the last 18 years, it has also contributed to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) objectives and the pursuit of two critical Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs): Zero Hunger and Quality Education.
The organisation has now served over 3 billion meals to children since its inception.
3 billion meals is a remarkable feat!
Happy to have joined the programme organised by the Akshaya Patra Foundation and interact with these wonderful youngsters. pic.twitter.com/Elcy7pNBgB
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 11, 2019
Gandhi Peace Prize recognises contribution of Akshaya Patra Foundation in providing Mid Day Meals to millions of children across India.
Sulabh International (2016)
Sulabh International Social Service Organisation was founded in 1970 in Bihar to restore the human rights and dignity of scavengers and stop open defecation in the open.
Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the organization, invented the two-pit pour-flush ecological compost toilet (Sulabh Shauchalaya) in 1968. It is appropriate, affordable, indigenous and culturally acceptable.
It has also been featured as one of the five unique inventions of the world by BBC Horizons.
The technology is used by 2.4 billion people who have no access to safe and hygienic toilets from Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as has been accepted by countries like China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.
The Indian Government has constructed over 90 million two-pit toilets.
Sulabh has constructed 1.5 million two-pit toilets, invented the technology to generate electricity from biogas and contributed for women emancipation by helping the widows of Vrindavan.
Gandhi Peace Prize recognizes the contribution of Sulabh International in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.
Ekal Abhiyan Trust (2017)
Ekal Abhiyan has embarked upon five programmes to achieve the vision of Gram Swaraj: literacy, health and hygiene, rural entrepreneurship, cultural values and empowerment.
The trust is imparting education in more than 80,000 villages and educating 2.2 million children.
It runs on the concept of ‘One Teacher School’ and provides 4 years of free, informal primary level education to children to ensure functional literacy among age group of 6 to 14 years.
Gandhi Peace Prize recognizes the manifold contribution of Ekal Abhiyan Trust in providing education to Rural and Tribal children in remote areas pan India, spreading awareness about Health and Hygiene, promoting Rural Entrepreneurship through natural farming and skills, making rural communities aware of issues related to Gender and Social Equality.
Besides this, it promotes tree plantation, water and soil conservation, conservation of seeds of indigenous varieties and chemical free farming practices.
Yohei Sasakawa (2018)
Yohei Sasakawa, a Japanese philanthropist has been working towards the eradication of leprosy for 40 years.
He is a chairman of The Nippon Foundation (Japan’s largest charitable foundation), WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and the Japanese Government Goodwill Ambassador for the Human Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy.
His foundation is the main donor to the WHO’s Global Leprosy Programme.
In 2005, he founded the National Forum, now known as the Association of People Affected by Leprosy to empower persons affected by leprosy.
In 2006, he founded the Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation, which is dedicated to the social and economic rehabilitation of persons affected by leprosy through skills development, livelihood and scholarship programmes.
He identified the stigma and discrimination that affected people face as a barrier to their treatment and participation in society. He requested the UN High Commissioner to take it up as a human rights issue.
Consequently, UN General Assembly adopted the resolution “Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members” in December 2010.
He also initiated a Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy in 2006.
He donated USD 50 Million to WHO to distribute the Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT), the drugs used to treat leprosy, around the world from 1995 to 1999.
The Gandhi Peace Prize recognizes contribution of Mr. Yohei Sasakawa to the work of leprosy eradication in India and across the world through promoting awareness and understanding of leprosy as well as speaking out against stigma and discrimination.
Gandhi Peace Prize
Since 1995, the prize recognises the social, economic and political transformation through Non-violence and comprises an amount of Rs. one crore with a citation.
PM Narendra Modi led the jury which comprised of the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Sumitra Mahajan (Speaker of Lok Sabha), Mallikarjuna Kharge (Leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha) and MP L.K. Advani.
The first Gandhi Peace Prize was conferred to Dr.Julius K.Nyerere, former President of Tanzania in 1995.
In 2014, the award honoured the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The prize was not awarded for the years 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
(Note- All the photos have been taken from official Twitter handles.)