Gandhi Peace Prize to Geeta Press

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The statement issued by the Union Ministry of Culture said that the jury headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi unanimously decided to select Geeta Press, Gorakhpur for the Gandhi Peace Prize. The statement said that Prime Minister Modi recalled the contribution of Geeta Press in promoting Gandhian ideals of peace and social harmony. The statement said Modi said that the Gandhi Peace Prize being awarded to Gita Press on completion of 100 years of its establishment is a recognition of the work done by the institution in community service. Gita Press was started in the year 1923 and is one of the largest publishers in the world, which has published 417 million books in 14 languages. These books include 16.21 crore copies of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. The statement said, ‘The Gandhi Peace Prize 2021 recognizes the significant and unique contribution of Gita Press to contribute to the collective upliftment of humanity, which expresses Gandhian life in true sense.’ The Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award instituted by the government in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi to honor the ideals propounded by Gandhi. The ministry said that the award can be given to any person irrespective of his nationality, race, language, caste, creed or gender. The award comprises Rs one crore, a citation, a plaque and an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item, the ministry said. In recent times the award has been given to Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Oman (2019) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (2020), Bangladesh.
Opposing the central government’s award of ‘Gandhi Peace Prize’ to Gita Press, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted that ‘Gandhi Peace Prize to Gita Press is a travesty and is like honoring Godse-Savarkar’. On the above comment of Jairam Ramesh, many veterans of Congress say that Jairam is from South India, perhaps he does not realize that Ramcharitmanas and Shrimad Bhagavad Gita are in every house in North India. Geeta Press also has respect in the minds of the people. A senior party leader said Gehlot had nominated Geeta Press for the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award last year and was supported by jury member Dr Karan Singh. Although he did not get the award. Another leader said that what is the need of Jayaram’s comment in such a situation? Jairam should not have tweeted by picking up the documents of the Left parties. Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said that he was neither adding nor subtracting anything from Jairam’s statement. Acharya Pramod Krishnam said that the opposition to Gita Press is the culmination of anti-Hindu mentality. People sitting on responsible positions should not make such anti-religious statements, whose loss would take centuries to make up for. Targeting the Congress, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that Geeta Press is associated with India’s culture, values, Hindu beliefs. It produces affordable literature and has a door-to-door reach. He said that who are making allegations, those who consider Muslim League as secular. He said- ‘The Muslim League itself partitioned the country and for the Congress it became secular and the Gita Press became obnoxious. Geeta Press did not create any division. Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote on Twitter – ‘Congress proud of the victory in Karnataka is now openly attacking Indian culture and heritage. The people of the country will definitely thwart such efforts of the Congress with double the power.
The Board of Trustees of Gita Press thanked the government for selecting the press for the Gandhi Peace Prize and said it would not accept the Rs 1 crore money that comes with the award. Talking to reporters, Geeta Press Manager Lalmani Tripathi said, ‘We thank the Union Ministry of Culture, Government of India and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi for conferring the ‘Gandhi Peace Prize’. It is a matter of great honor for us. It is our principle not to accept donations of any kind, therefore the Board of Trustees has decided that we will certainly accept the award out of respect for the award, but will not accept the money that comes with it.’ Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2021 to Geeta Press amid criticism from the Congress, saying that the award of this prestigious award is an honor for the Bhagirath works of Geeta Press. Shah said in a tweet, ‘For more than 100 years, Geeta Press has been doing a wonderful job of selflessly taking many holy books from Ramcharitmanas to Shrimad Bhagd Gita to the masses.’
The comment made by Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh regarding the Gandhi Peace Prize to Geeta Press is unfortunate and what is more saddening is the fact that Congress President Kharge and any senior leader including the Gandhi family publicly denied this. Didn’t even condemn the statement, whereas the truth is that no other organization has done the service Geeta Press has done to Sanatan Dharma in the last 100 years. The credit goes to Gita Press for taking Ramayana and Gita to every household.
The tweet by Jairam Ramesh reflects his thinking and time as well as what the Congress party thinks about Hinduism and its related institutions. If the senior leaders of the Congress have such thinking towards the majority Hindu society of the country, then the Congress should give up hope of coming to power in the near future. If Congress wants cooperation and support of Hindu society, then it will have to respect the sentiments of Hindus and leave the policy of appeasement.

– Irwin Khanna (Chief Editor, Dainik Uttam Hindu)

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