Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who advocated a permanent seat for India in the UN Security Council, was today honoured with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace and Disarmament.
President Pranab Mukherjee gave away the award to Lula in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Lula said the award does not belong to him but the people of Brazil.
He was given the prize for his outstanding contribution to the cause of eliminating poverty and promoting inclusive growth in Brazil, his advocacy of stronger ties among the developing nations and for his singular contribution to the cause of India-Brazil partnership.
Speaking on the occasion, Mukherjee highlighted the former Brazilian President's contribution in pulling out 20 million people of his country out of poverty and his role in forging South-South cooperation and turning IBSA - a bloc of emerging economies - into a force to reckon with.
Commending Lula for following the path of inclusive growth, Mukherjee said India and Brazil are committed towards nuclear disarmament. He said the two countries have propagated the need to hold dialogue to resolve disputes as it was the best path.
Singh said India-Brazil relationship was transformed during the time President Lula was at the helm of affairs in his country.
"For the two of us, however, the relationship was more than a series of agreements. We shared a belief that although our countries were separated by deep oceans, we were united by similar values, challenges and aspirations and that we were uniquely placed to work together for a better world," he said.
Describing Indira Gandhi as "one of the most dynamic Prime Minister", Mukherjee said she always worked for the goal of achieving growth along with equitable distribution of resources for all.
He said the former Prime Minister was a crusader of global peace, new international economic order and disarmament.
The Prime Minister said Lula's life epitomises the endless possibilities for human achievement that come with character, conviction and commitment.
"He rose from difficult circumstances to be elected as the President of a great nation and to become one of his country's most beloved leaders and a statesman of global stature," he said.
Gandhi, who is also the Chairperson of the Indira Gandhi Trust, said Lula's life and public career serve as an inspiration to people across the world.
She said even 28 years after her death, she is remembered for her resolute political leadership and welfare of the poor.
In his acceptance speech, Lula said a country like India should become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
He said Latin American nations as well as African nations should also be made permanent members of the body.
Lula said when Dilma Vana Rousseff took over as the new President of Brazil, he told her the need to develop good relations with various countries, especially India.
Referring to the leadership of Indira Gandhi, he said women have the power to "move a great democracy". Describing women as a symbol of motherhood, he said they wield authority to be brave and angry at the same time, evoking applause from the audience, including Sonia Gandhi who was seen smiling.
He also blamed western economies for bailing out banks during global recession but not helping workers, whom he said were "penalised" instead.
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