Tuesday, Jan 06, 2004
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By Our Special Correspondent
The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, presenting the Gandhi Peace Prize to the former President of Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday.
Addressing a function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here today after presenting the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2003 to the former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, Mr. Kalam said: "Now the time has come to realise that peace is essential for an individual and a nation's prosperity, and also for the world to prosper. In this direction, our Prime Minister has put forth in the SAARC summit that integrated development of the SAARC region is essential to remove poverty and bring about peace.''
Prior to him, Mr. Advani who was stepping in for the Prime Minister - said millions across the country were praying that Mr. Vajpayee's visit to Islamabad would provide a major breakthrough for the establishment of peace.
While Mr. Kalam described Mr. Havel as "the present-day torch-bearer of all those principles, particularly peace movement, which Mahatma Gandhi held close to his heart," Mr. Advani recalled the Czech statesman's record in fighting for democracy and civil liberties; thereby making his public life quite similar to that of Mr. Vajpayee's.
In his speech, Mr. Havel dwelt at length on the flip side of globalisation, how humankind was unable to cope responsibly with its own products, and identified the "reckless, unbridled course of civilisation today'' as one of the causes of terrorism.
"While the rapid tendency of civilisation towards uniformity attracts both individuals and entire human communities, it is at the same time a source of deep, and often unconscious, frustration.''
Mr. Havel was selected for the award which carries a cash component of Rs. 1 crore, a plaque and a citation for his contribution towards world peace and upholding human rights. No stranger to India and awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize in 1994, this award puts Mr. Havel in the league of the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, and John Hume of Ireland, among others.
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