Dhaka, Mar 23 (PTI) Expressing its 'deep gratitude' to India for conferring the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh has said the award is a 'befitting tribute' to the ever-deepening relations between the two countries.
The Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award instituted by the government of India since 1995, the 125th birth anniversary commemoration year of Mahatma Gandhi. The award is open to all people regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or sex.
India's Ministry of Culture on Monday announced that the honour for the year 2020 has been conferred on Rahman -- Bangladesh's 'Father of the Nation' and first president.
In a press statement on Monday, Bangladesh's foreign affairs ministry said the government 'acknowledges with deep gratitude the decision of the Government of India to confer the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020 to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, posthumously for the first time'.
'It is an honour for Bangladesh and its people for the Father of the Nation to be bestowed with this prestigious award,' it said.
The ministry said the honour assumes 'special significance' on the 50th year of Bangladesh's independence when the country is on the verge of becoming a developing country, through political, economic and social transformation, the foundations of which were laid by Bangabandhu.
'The award is also a befitting tribute to the ever-deepening Bangladesh-India relations in a year when both countries are jointly celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence, 50 years of diplomatic relations and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu,' it said.
'As Bangladesh commemorates the legacy of Bangabandhu on his 100th birth anniversary, the award comes as a recognition of the life long struggle of this enduring leader to ensure the freedom, rights, aspirations and emancipation of his people and towards building a world free from hunger, poverty and exploitation,' the statement noted.
The ministry said the values and ideals of both Gandhiji and Bangabandhu remain even more relevant today for building a world of peace, free from oppression, injustice and deprivation.
The jury for Gandhi Peace Prize is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comprises two ex-officio members, namely the chief justice of India and leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.
The award carries an amount of Rs 1 crore, a citation, plaque and an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item.
Modi, who is scheduled to visit Dhaka this week, said Bangabandhu was a champion of human rights and freedom, and a hero to Indians as well.
The prime minister will visit Bangladesh on March 26 and 27, his first visit to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the legacy and inspiration of Bangabandhu has made the heritage of both countries more comprehensive and deep-rooted, and that the path shown by Bangabandhu has laid a strong foundation for the partnership, progress and prosperity of both countries over the last decade.
'Bangabandhu's vision continues to light the India-Bangladesh friendship. I had the privilege of honouring his memory during my previous Bangladesh visit and will again pay homage to him, alongside PM Hasina, during the #MujibBorsho celebrations,' Modi said in a tweet on Monday.
'Year 2020 marked the birth centenary of Bangabandhu. He remains an icon of indomitable courage and tireless struggle for his millions of admirers,' he said.
Late Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman was awarded the prestigious prize for the year 2019 in recognition of his vision to strengthen relations with India, and his efforts to promote peace and non-violence in the Gulf region. PTI SCY AKJ SCY