This article has been sponsored by Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation
“India is the Mahatma’s country of birth; South Africa, his country of adoption.” – Nelson Mandela
Fondly referred to as ‘Madiba’, Mandela is known to have been deeply inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy. Recognising his contribution in propagating Gandhian values, especially of satya and ahimsa (truth and non-violence), the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation conferred a special Award on Dr Mandela. The Award also came at an opportune time–on the birth centenary of the founder, Jamnalal Bajaj, in 1990.
The Award consisted of Rs 10 lakh, a citation and a specially sculptured trophy signifying Dr. Mandela’s fight for freedom.
In line with the idea to recognise international personalities or groups propagating Gandhian values, the Foundation introduced the fourth category of awards in 1988 — ‘Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India’.
The Award recognises work that promotes peace and harmony among people, friendliness among nations through the application of Gandhian philosophy of truth and non-violence, end exploitation in any form, introduce innovative work in social organisations, or promote Gandhian values.
It would include an amount of Rs 10,00,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency, a trophy and a citation.
Here are some individuals who were felicitated for their contributions abroad:
1. This year, it was Dr Clayborne Carson, the current Martin Luther King Jr Centennial Professor of History at Stanford University.
He also serves as the founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford.
In 2008, Dr Carson began teaching courses on Gandhi and King. During his trips to India, he lectured at many universities and institutes and created an online social network – The Gandhi-King Community: For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment – which has more than 1,600 members.
2. A staunch believer of the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights, Dr Zia Medoukh was conferred with this award in 2017.
A teacher and researcher, he is a Palestinian Professor and Director of the French Department at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, Palestine. He was the first Palestinian to be recognised as the Knight of the Order of Academic Palms of the French Republic in 2011–an honorary title bestowed by the French Republic to distinguished academics and personalities across the world of culture and education.
He has manifested the development of a non-violent economy in the Gaza Strip by mobilising Palestinians to produce, use and market local products, and has also initiated agricultural and organic farming in the community as well as handicrafts in villages and refugee camps.
In 2006, Dr Medoukh, along with his friends, set up the Peace Centre, which follows Gandhian principles of a non-violent economy, to show the importance of education as a form of non-violent resistance in Palestine.
At the centre, he set up a psychological support cell to help traumatised children from the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014. Until 2017, this unit organised more than 100 sessions in the kindergartens, schools and shelters benefitting more than 4,000 children.
3. Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi, the President of the Ennahdha Party, one of the prominent political parties in Tunisia, was given this award in 2016 for promoting Gandhian methods of tolerance and empathy.
The strategic decisions made by the Ennahdha leadership are considered to be the reason that Tunisia managed to preserve the achievements of the 2011 revolution and remain an island of democracy in a sea of autocratic regimes in the Arab world.
Sheikh Rached’s keen interest in Gandhian philosophy helped him to take the nation out of an unstable, polarised and acrimonious state. Tunisia is the only Arab country to have made a peaceful democratic transition.
Established in 1978 by JBF (Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation), the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards are one of the longest-standing awards in India. They recognise unsung heroes who have inspired many across the world, acknowledge their selfless efforts to make a difference in society and promote community service and social development through the lens of Gandhian values.
Each winner of the different categories is presented with a prize money of Rs 10,00,000. The awards also include a citation and a trophy.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)