The Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 will be conferred on Gita Press, Gorakhpur, one of the largest publishers of religious texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, and the Upanishads in India.
The decision to bestow the award on Gita Press was made by a jury led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, in recognition of the publishing house's "outstanding contribution towards social, economic, and political transformation through nonviolent and other Gandhian methods," the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.
While recalling Gita Press's contribution to promoting Gandhian ideals of peace and social harmony, PM Modi stated that the award was given in recognition of the institution's work 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. @GitaPress,” PM Modi tweeted.
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. @GitaPress https://t.co/B9DmkE9AvS— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 18, 2023
What is the Gandhi Peace Prize?
The annual Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted in 1995 to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's 125th birth anniversary. The award includes Rs one crore monetary prize, a citation, a plaque, and an exquisite handicraft or handloom item.
Previous recipients of the award include the Indian Space Research Organisation, Ramakrishna Mission, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, and Sulabh International, New Delhi.
It has also been given to former South African President Nelson Mandela, social worker Baba Amte, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt, and former Bangladesh President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
All you need to know about Gita Press, Gorakhpur
Gita Press is one of the world's largest publishers, having published 417 million books in 14 languages, including 162.1 million copies of Bhagavad Gita. It will complete 100 years of establishment in 2023.
“The institution has never relied on advertisement in its publications, for revenue generation. Gita Press along with its affiliated organisations, strives for the betterment of life and the well-being of all,” the ministry said.
According to the Gita Press' official website, the organisation's main goal is to "promote and spread the principles of Sanatana 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."
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh, however, likened the decision to awarding Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar and Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.
“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 [Gandhi] and the running battles it carried on with him on his political, religious and social agenda,” he wrote in a tweet.
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… pic.twitter.com/PqoOXa90e6June 18, 2023
Mukul’s Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India details the publisher’s impact on Indian society and its relationship with the Hindu nationalist movement.
Gita Press refuses Rs 1 crore cash reward
Meanwhile, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, has refused to accept Rs 1 crore cash reward for the Gandhi Peace Award. However, it said that it would accept the citation and not the cash prize.
Refusing to accept the honorarium, Gita Press suggested the government should spend the money elsewhere and that it would only accept a certificate of appreciation, India Today reported.