Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded the Seoul Peace Prize 2018 during his two-day South Korea visit starting Thursday. Modi, the 14th recipient of the prize, became the first Indian to have been conferred the prestigious award.
Why is Modi getting the award?
The prime minister received a plaque and an honorarium cash prize "for his contribution to high economic growth in India and the world through 'Modinomics'", the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The selection committee of the award recognised "his dedication to improving international cooperation, raising global economic growth, accelerating the human development of the people of India by fostering economic growth in the world's fastest-growing large economy and furthering the development of democracy through anti-corruption and social integration efforts".
The committee also credited the prime minister for his contribution towards regional and global peace through a proactive foreign policy with countries around the world under the 'Modi Doctrine' and the Act East Policy.
What is the Seoul Peace Prize?
Established in 1990, the Seoul Peace Prize was an effort to crystallise the Korean people's yearning for peace in the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world. This year's award commemorates the success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, Republic of Korea — an event in which 160 nations from across the world, including Seoul's belligerent neighbour Pyongyang took part — creating harmony and friendship and a worldwide atmosphere of peace and reconciliation.
The Seoul Peace Prize is awarded biennially to those individuals who have made their mark through contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and to world peace.
Past laureates include distinguished global personalities like former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned international relief organisations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.
After assessing over a hundred candidates proposed by over 1,300 nominators from around the world, the Award Committee decided to bestow the prize on Modi, calling him "the perfect candidate for the 2018 Seoul Peace Prize".
In October 2018, Modi had received the United Nations' highest environmental honour, the Champions of the Earth Award, from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his "unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022". He was among the six winners of the award.
South Korean groups protests against conferring prize on Modi
National Herald, a newspaper associated with the Congress party, quoted Korean reports to claim that at least 20 South Korean nonprofits, including human rights groups, had raised strong objections to Modi being awarded the prestigious prize. The activists referred to the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying: "Modi's win is a disgrace to the past laureates of this prestigious award."
"We demand (the Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation) retract its decision to give the Seoul Peace Prize to Modi... He deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in India that killed more than a 1,000 people in 2002," the newspaper quoted 26 groups, including the Centre for Refugee Rights in Korea and the Korean House of International Solidarity, as saying.
The government had told Parliament in 2005 that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 more people were reported missing and another 2,500 were injured during the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
In October 2017, the Gujarat High Court had upheld the clean chit given to Modi and 58 others by the Special Investigation Team, saying there was "no prosecutable evidence" against them. However, this has been challenged in the country's Supreme Court, and the matter is due to come up for hearing in July 2019, well after the Lok Sabha elections due in May.
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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2019 11:30:53 IST