June 19, 2024

New Delhi, June 19: The Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 will be conferred on Gita Press, Gorakhpur, one of the world’s largest publishers, the culture ministry announced on Sunday. The decision was taken by a jury headed by PM Narendra Modi.

Recalling the contribution of Gita Press in promoting the Gandhian ideals of peace and social harmony, PM Modi said the conferment of the Gandhi Peace Prize on Gita Press, on completion of 100 years of its establishment, is a recognition of the work done by the institution in community service.

“I congratulate Gita Press, Gorakhpur on being conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize 2021. They have done commendable work over the last 100 years towards furthering social and cultural transformations among the people,” he said.

The prize recognises Gita Press’s “outstanding contribution towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violent and other Gandhian methods”. The prize, instituted by the government of India in 1995 to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as a tribute to the ideals espoused by him, carries an amount of Rs 1 crore, a citation, a plaque and a traditional handicraft object.

Gita Press completes 100 years in 2023

Established in 1923, Gita Press is the world’s largest publisher of Hindu religious texts, with 41.7 crore books — 16.21 crore of them copies of the Bhagvad Gita — published in 14 languages, to its credit. It says its “main objective is to promote and spread the principles of Sanatan Dharma, the Hindu religion among the general public by publishing Gita, Ramayana, Upanishads, Puranas, discourses of eminent saints and other character-building books and magazines and marketing them at highly subsidised prices”.

The Gandhi Peace Prize

The Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award instituted in 1995, on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as a tribute to the ideals espoused by Mahatma Gandhi. The award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or gender. Recent awardees include Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, Oman (2019) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (2020), Bangladesh.

The Opposition & other liberals oppose, of course!

Of course, this development did not go down well with the Opposition and “the liberals”. Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to condemn the selection and asserted that giving the Gandhi Peace Prize to Gita Press is the same as giving it to Godse, or Savarkar.

“The Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 has been conferred on the Gita Press at Gorakhpur which is celebrating its centenary this year. There is a very fine biography from 2015 of this organisation by Akshaya Mukul in which he unearths the stormy relations it had with the Mahatma and the running battles it carried on with him on his political, religious & social agenda. The decision is really a travesty and is like awarding Savarkar and Godse,” he tweeted.

 

RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha also attacked the center too. “Don’t expect things which this government does not. They are fundamentally anti-Gandhi,” Jha told PTI.

A netizen named Saib Bilaval tweeted, “Gita Press was responsible for some of the most rabidly communal, casteist & anti-women discourse. While Kalyan’s editor Poddar did correspond with & admire Gandhi, the overall role of the magazine & Press was absolutely un-Gandhian & anti-peace during partition.”
Amid this, Gita Press has refused to accept the Rs 1 crore cash reward for the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 amid a controversy over being picked for the honour.

The publisher today said that it would only accept the citation, suggesting that the government should spend the cash reward amount elsewhere. The award also includes a plaque and an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item.

 

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