NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday presented the 17th Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award to Gautam Bhai of the Paunar Ashram in Maharashtra for his contribution towards promotion of communal harmony, peace and goodwill.
The annual award is given on the birth anniversary of the late former prime minister and the day is celebrated as Sadbhavna Diwas, or harmony day, and Akshay Urja Diwas, or energy day.
Remembering Rajiv Gandhi on his 65th birth anniversary, Manmohan Singh said: “Every year, we honour the memory of a young and inspirational prime minister who wanted to build a new India free from the fear of want and exploitation.”
“It was Rajiv Gandhi who gave a call to build an India united by bonds transcending caste, creed and region; and an India that was a powerful force for peace and amity in the world at large,” he said.
“The Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award is a tribute to this vision of a strong, self-confident and self-reliant India,” the prime minister added.
In conferring the award on Gautam Bhai, “we commend his work in promoting these very values that were so dear to Rajivji”, Manmohan Singh said.
Gautam Bhai is a descendant of freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj. At the age of 12, Gautam Bhai joined Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement to empower the landless.