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President Confers Gandhi Peace Prize 1997 on Dr.Gerhard Fischer of Germany (Features from PIB 05-Jan-98)

President Confers Gandhi Peace Prize 1997 on Dr.Gerhard Fischer of Germany (05-Jan-98)

The President, Shri K R Narayanan conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for 1997 on Dr Gerhard Fischer of Germany here today. The Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted in the year 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The annual award is the highest given by the Government of India to honour thought and action which reflect the Gandhian worldview and seek to relieve pain and suffering in a true spirit of love and compassion. The earlier recipients of the award are Dr. Julius K Nyerere, former President of Tanzania (1995) and Dr. A T Ariyaratne, a Sri Lankan social scientist (1996). The award is given every year and it carries an amount of Rupees ten million in cash, a Citation and a Plaque.

Conferring the award, the President felicitated Dr Fischer by saying, "He has brought to his humanitarian work a rare dedication, a vision, as well as a sense of mission. But more than all these, he has brought to it a distinct sense of hope and of confidence on the achievability of his objectives. Dr Fischer`s work in the field of leprosy and polio control has achieved the success it has, because of this creative combination of the inner and outer dimensions of humanitarian work".

Addressing those present, the President pointed out, "It is believed in many parts of the world and in the so-called developed world particularly, that deprivation, disease and illiteracy in several other parts of the world are the business of those parts of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. As long as the North and the South continue to reflect different levels of human development, so long will peace remain divided." "It would follow therefore that in matters such as medical relief, humanitarian intervention has to be trans-continental; it has to be global," Shri Narayanan added.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister, Shri I K Gujral said that Dr Gerhard Fischer "is rightly known as the Ambassador of Humanity and represents the Gandhian spirit of service in abundant measure. His commitment to the service of the deprived and the under-privileged should inspire social workers and others to undertake similar work all over the world." Recalling the contributions made by Mahatma Gandhi towards service of the nation, the Prime Minister said, "The 50th anniversary of India`s Independence which the nation is celebrating now and the 50th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi`s martyrdom on 30th January, 1998 are occasions for deep introspection and re-dedication to the ideals that Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters cherished."

The Prime Minister informed,"During 1997 as many as 55 nominations were received for the Gandhi Peace Prize. From amongst them, Dr Gerhard Fischer was chosen for his outstanding work for the treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients and children affected by polio."

The HRD Minister, Shri S R Bommai, while congratulating Dr Fischer said that the Gandhi Peace Prize is a tribute by the Government and people of India to the ideals espoused by Gandhiji. The Jury under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister has selected Dr Gerhard Fischer, for the award as a recognition for his promotion of Gandhian ideals and methods, he added.

Dr Gerhard Fischer, a German national, recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize for 1997, was born in September 1921. He resigned in 1985 from a successful diplomatic career which saw him serve German Consul General in Chennai and as Germany`s Ambassador in Malaysia, Ireland and Netherlands and finally, Switzerland. Dr Fischer has devoted himself for the last 12 years in creating a network of leprosy and polio centres where patients suffering from leprosy and children afflicted with polio are treated.

Also present on the occasion was the Vice President, Shri Krishan Kant.

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