New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: India's Highest Award for Ellen

After receiving France's most prestigious award last week at the Elysee Palace in Paris, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to travel to New Delhi shortly to receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2012, one of India's most prestigious awards.

The Honorary Consulate General of India in Liberia, Mr Upjit Singh Sachdeva, told reporters yesterday that the latest Indian award places President Johnson Sirleaf among several world leaders who have received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.

He said President Pranab Mukherjee will confer the award on President Sirleaf who is also a Nobel laureate, when she travels to India in due course.

Describing it as one of India's most prestigious awards,Mr. Sachdeva said the prize, administered by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, was instituted to commemorate Indira Gandhi's outstanding contribution to India and Global well-being, as well as to promote the laudable causes she espoused.

Since its establishment in 1986, the Prize is awarded annually "to a person or organization without any distinction of nationality, race or religion in recognition of efforts towards promoting international peace and disarmament; racial equality, goodwill and harmony among nations; securing economic cooperation and promoting a new international economic order; accelerating the all-round advancement of developing nations, and enlarging the scope of freedom and enriching human spirit."

After receiving nominations from around the World, final selection for the Prize is made by a Jury of Eminent Persons, headed by the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and including eminent International Scientists and Jurists.

The 2012 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is being awarded to President Sirleaf for serving as "an example and an inspiration to many women in Africa and beyond; for ensuring the return of peace, democracy, development, security and order in Liberia; and her strong interest in the consolidation and improvement of Liberia's relations with India since her first election as President in 2005 and her re - election in 2011."

Moreover, Upjit Singh Sachdeva said President Sirleaf has been singled out for the prize for restoring financial health to Liberia which was on the verge of fiscal breakdown. "Fiscal prudence and economic planning has seen economic recovery and development to Liberia. President Sirleaf's determination to promote reconciliation remains undaunted," he said.

In the world, particularly among developing countries, where progress is always confronted by social issues, the Indian diplomat said President Sirleaf has been able to surmount many obstacles in seeing the return of Liberia to the comity of Nations as an equal and respected member. "Her policies to reach out have seen restoration of peace within Liberia's borders and understating with its neighbors," he said.

Previous recipients of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development include former Soviet President, Mikhail S. Gorbachev (1987); former Prime Minister of Norway, Her Excellency Gro Harlem Brundtland (1988); former President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma (1990); former President of Czech Republic, His Excellency Dr. Vaclav Havel (1993); former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo (1995); former United States President, Jimmy Carter (1997); former President of Ireland, Mrs. Mary Robinson (2000); former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan (2003); the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (2005); the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mrs. Sheikh Hasina (2009); and former President of Brazil, His Excellency Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2010); among others.

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