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Saturday, April 09, 2011

IIPM celebrates selfless service

After Irom Sharmila last year, Anna Hazare wins IIPM's 2011 Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize of Rs. 1cr. To be handed over on 9th May

In a highly intellectual event, the Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskars are awarded by IIPM to six transformational leaders committed to positive social change and equality.

1. It is worth walking the extra mile if at the end of it you know you havMrs Chaudhuri & Dr. Malay Chaudhurie brought about a meaningful and positive change. In the same spirit, The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) honoured six individuals from different walks of life with the prestigious Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar for treading that extra mile. This award is given for the commitment to bring about a positive change in the society and for championing the cause of equality, social justice and human welfare. The award ceremony, organised in New Delhi on March 28, 2011, was presided over by Swami Shantatmananda Maharaj of the Delhi branch of Ramakrishna Mission.

The distinguished award, which additionally has a prize money of five lakh rupees, a gold medal and a citation, was conferred upon Dr Kiran Bedi, Prof. Ilina Sen, Dr Binayak Sen, Prakash Kaur, Justice (retd) V R Krishna Iyer and former Chief Election Commissioner of India, T. N. Seshan. It is one of the various awards that IIPM has instituted to celebrate the spirit of sacrifice and selfless giving.

2. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Malay Chaudhuri, founder Director, IIPM, Dr. Kiran Bedi being awardedand Chairman, IIPM Awards Committee, while commending the awardees for their commitment towards their respective causes, said, “In the absence of economic planning in India, social welfare and poverty alleviation programmes are never successful. This leads to criminalisation of the society and the exploitation of the poor at the hands of the rich and the corrupt.” The ultimate cause of uprooting poverty and injustice from the country is very close to the heart of Dr. Malay Chaudhuri.

Thanking IIPM for the award, the most respected social activist and former IPS officer, Dr Kiran Bedi said, “It gives me immense pleasure as this award will go a long way in contributing towards my cause.” She urged the IIPM students and civil society to join hands against corruption and exhorted them to work for the welfare of the poor at the grassroots level. Dr Kiran Bedi runs the NGOs Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation; and supports various social causes like prison reform, child welfare and prevention of drug abuse.

3. Prakash Kaur received the award for her unrelenting mission of rescuing unwanted and unclaimed newborn girls and giving them a secure home and future. “I feel grateful for this award,” said Kaur, overwhelmed with emotion, “It gives me immense satisfaction to be among the people who support humanitarian causes and are ready to help all those in need. I am an insignificant person and yet the IIPM awards committee selected me for this prestigious award.”

Prof. Ilina Sen and Dr Binayak Sen were individually awarded for their dedicated efforts in restoring sustained focus on human rights in Chhattisgarh and for ensuring social justice for the tribals. In the absence of Dr Binayak Sen, his wife Prof Ilina Sen received her husband's award too. Dr Ilina Sen, who has embraced a life full of difficulties, said, “I thank IIPM for the awards. The Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar has boosted my morale. It feels as if I am not alone in the ordeal through which my family is passing. This award has made me forget my pain for some time and I strongly hope that our struggle for social justice in Chhattisgarh and other parts of the country would produce the desired results.”

Retired Justice V R Krishna Iyer, who is over 96 years of age, could not make it to the awards function. Consequently, the award was received on his behalf by Dr Vinod Sethi, Secretary General of Capital Foundation Society, and a very close associate of Justice Iyer for several years. The iconic former election commissioner, T N Seshan, who was awarded for his commitment in bringing about electoral reforms and reinstating the confidence of the electorate in the democratic process, also could not turn up at the awards function because of ill health. He, however, conveyed his acceptance in a mail: “I consider this as the recognition of the vital role of democracy in the country... Thank you for selecting me. I accept the award with humility.”

4. Congratulating all the recipients of the award, Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri, Honorary Director, IIPM Think Tank, said, “Our focus should not be the survival of the fittest... It should be the survival of the weakest. Unfortunately, in our society, the exploitation of the weak by the powerful and the corrupt further pushes the weaker sections to the margins. With a non-functional judicial system and an equally inefficient policing system, the real criminals are always outside the prisons while those who cannot manage the money required for their bail are left to languish inside.”

In a message sent to IIPM, Justice Iyer echoed the sentiments of Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri. “Money rules and today no one seems to be above the power of wealth. Our elections are victimised by money power. It is unfortunate. Swaraj gained after a do-or-die struggle has become a casualty after Independence.”

IIPM over the years has instituted various awards in social development, literature, culture, peace and in other specific areas to recognize people who have contributed extensively in their respective fields. In August 2008, IIPM instituted the Surama Chowdhury Memorial International Prize in Literature to acknowledge the contribution of individuals in the field of literature. In April 2010, IIPM instituted the Manavata Vikas Award, which was conferred upon academicians like Dr Ashok Sanjay Guha and Prof Sunanda Sanyal, popular economists like Gurcharan Das and Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, and social thinkers like Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya, Medha Patkar and Mahasweta Devi.

5. In May 2010, once again, IIPM instituted the Rabindra Smriti Puraskar in Kolkata and honoured some of the greatest individuals who have contributed in spreading Tagore’s consciousness through their works among the general mass – actor Soumitra Chatterjee, singer Suchitra Mitra, social visionary Dr Tushar Kanjilal and novelist Selina Hossain of Bangladesh. Once again, in August 2010, IIPM felicitated Irom Sharmila Chanu, the Iron Lady of Manipur with the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize for her determined decade long struggle to revoke the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

In the same year, IIPM had also declared the Rabindranath Tagore Memorial International Prize, with an award money of around Euro 1.15 million (or Rs. 7 crore), a purse that is greater than that of the Nobel Prize. The first such award would be given away in May 2011 on the completion of the 150th birth anniversary of India’s first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.

In pictures: (1) (L to R) Prof. Ilina Sen receiving Dr. Binayak Sen’s award from Swami Shantatmananda Maharaj, Mrs Chaudhuri & Dr. Malay Chaudhuri (2) Dr. Kiran Bedi being awarded by Swami Shantatmananda Maharaj and Dr. Malay Chaudhuri (3) Prakash Kaur receiving her award (4) Prof. Ilina Sen accepts her individual award (5) Dr Vinod Sethi (centre) receiving the award on behalf of Justice V R Krishna Iyer

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