Gandhi Peace Prize: Gita Press rejects ₹1 crore cash award

| Updated: 19 June, 2023 6:04 pm IST
The decision to decline the cash prize is in line with Gita Press’ longstanding tradition of not accepting any form of donations, it said

NEW DELHI: The controversy surrounding the selection of Gita Press for the Gandhi Peace Prize has taken a new turn as the publisher has declined the accompanying ₹1 crore cash award. In a statement, Gita Press expressed its deep appreciation for being chosen for the prestigious honour but announced that it would not accept the monetary component of the award.

The decision to decline the cash prize is in line with Gita Press’ longstanding tradition of not accepting any form of donations. Lalmani Tripathi, the manager of Gita Press, stated, “We consider it a matter of great honour to receive the Gandhi Peace Prize. However, it is our principle to refrain from accepting any kind of donations, which is why the trustee board has decided not to accept the award in its monetary form. Nevertheless, we will certainly accept the award as a testament to the honour it represents.”

Gita Press extended its gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Culture Ministry for conferring the esteemed award upon them.

The jury, led by PM Modi, unanimously selected Gita Press as the recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize. Prime Minister Modi, congratulating Gita Press, tweeted, “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.”

However, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh vehemently criticised the central government for awarding the Gandhi Peace Prize to Gita Press, drawing controversial comparisons.

Ramesh referred to the decision, made by a jury headed by Prime Minister Modi, as a “travesty” and likened it to awarding figures such as VD Savarkar and Nathuram Godse. He also pointed to a 2015 book authored by journalist Akshaya Mukul that reportedly reveals the contentious relationship between Gita Press and Mahatma Gandhi.

In response, Assam Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma lambasted the Congress party, accusing it of waging a campaign against India’s civilizational values and rich heritage.

Sarma tweeted, “With their victory in Karnataka, the Congress has openly initiated an assault on India’s civilisational values and rich heritage. Whether through the repeal of the anti-conversion law or their criticism of Gita Press, the people of India will resist this aggression and assert our civilizational values with equal determination.”

Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders also denounced Jairam Ramesh, labelling the Congress party as “Hindu-hating”. BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla criticised Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray for aligning with the Congress party despite its alleged attacks on Hinduism, Hindutva, and even figures like Savarkar.

The controversy surrounding Gita Press’s selection for the Gandhi Peace Prize continues to ignite heated debates and exchanges between political parties, underscoring the deep divisions within Indian politics.

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