Gandhi Peace Prize 2021 to be conferred on Gita Press

New Delhi:  The Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 will be conferred on Gita Press, Gorakhpur, in recognition of its “outstanding contribution towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violent and other Gandhian methods”, according to an official statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Gita Press for winning the prize and commended its contribution to the field.

“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.

Instituted by the government in 1995, the Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award 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.

The award carries a cash prize of 1 crore, a citation, a plaque and an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item. The past awardees include organisations such as ISRO and Ramakrishna Mission.

In a statement, the ministry said that after due deliberations, a jury, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unanimously decided to honour Gita Press, Gorakhpur, with the 2021 award, in recognition of its outstanding contribution towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violent and other Gandhian methods.

“Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recalled the contribution of Gita Press, in promoting the Gandhian ideals of peace and social harmony. He observed that the conferment of Gandhi Peace Prize on Gita Press, on completion of hundred years of its establishment, is a recognition of the work done by the institution in community service,” the statement said.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath also conveyed his wishes to the Press. “Heartiest congratulations to Gorakhpur-based Geeta Press, the most important centre of religious literature of Sanatan Dharma of India, on receiving the ‘Gandhi Peace Prize’ for the year 2021,” he tweeted.

Established in 1923, Gita Press is one of the world’s largest publishers, having published 417 million books in 14 languages, including 162 million Shrimad Bhagvad Gita, the statement said.

The Congress, however, criticised awarding the prize to Gita Press and called it a “travesty”.

“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 and social agenda. The decision is really a travesty and is like awarding Savarkar and Godse,” Congress general secretary-in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh tweeted.