Lula conferred Nehru award for international understanding


New Delhi : Visiting Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva Monday received the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding 2006 from Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for his contribution to "strengthening relations" among developing nations.

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Accepting the award, Lula – here on a three-day visit – dedicated it to "all who want a peaceful world" and described Nehru as "a source of inspiration for people who were struggling for independence and laid the groundwork for an egalitarian nation."

The award, given by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) since 1965, a year after the death of India's first prime minister, was described by the Brazilian leader as "an honour" for him since it placed him on same pedestal as "towering personalities" like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Indira Gandhi who were previous recipients of the award.

Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who was the chairman of the jury, said "it was the unanimous decision of the jury to confer this award" on the Brazilian president for his contribution to international peace and understanding.

Presenting the award at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Kalam said India valued Lula's contribution in furthering the relationship between the two countries and was "privileged to honour you today as a true friend of India, an outstanding leader of Brazil, who symbolizes the aspirations of many developing countries."

Lula received a standing ovation from the large gathering that included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his cabinet colleagues Pranab Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil and Sushilkumar Shinde and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Soon after receiving the plaque from Kalam, Lula lifted it high amidst loud applause from the distinguished audience and said "without peace, all dreams would be reduced to ashes."