Gita Press refuses Rs 1 crore cash reward for Gandhi Peace Prize 2021 amid controversy
New Delhi : Gorakhpur's Gita Press, one of the largest publishers globally, has made headlines by declining the Rs 1 crore cash reward associated with the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021, following a contentious selection process.
The esteemed jury, chaired by Prime Minister Modi, unanimously chose Gita Press as this year's recipient of the award. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his congratulations on Sunday, stating, "I congratulate Gita Press, Gorakhpur, on being conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize 2021. Over the past century, they have made commendable contributions to social and cultural transformations. @GitaPress."
In a surprising turn of events, the publisher announced that it would only accept the citation and recommended that the government allocate the cash reward elsewhere. Additionally, the award includes a plaque and an exquisite traditional handicraft or handloom item.
However, the decision to honor Gita Press faced severe criticism from the Congress party, who dubbed it a "travesty" and likened it to "awarding Savarkar and Godse."
"The Gita Press at Gorakhpur, which is celebrating its centenary this year, has been bestowed with the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021," said an official statement.
Party leader Jairam Ramesh highlighted a biography by Akshaya Mukul from 2015, revealing the organization's tumultuous relationship with Mahatma Gandhi and their vehement disagreements regarding political, religious, and social agendas. He tweeted, "There is a very fine biography from 2015 of this organization 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 Gandhi Peace Prize, established in 1995 to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's 125th birth anniversary, celebrates the ideals upheld by the legendary leader. The award is open to individuals irrespective of nationality, race, language, caste, creed, or gender.
Recent recipients of this prestigious accolade include Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman (2019) and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh (2020).