The President, during the event held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, said that the prize was an expression of "our belief that the ideals Gandhiji espoused are part of our collective living heritage.” (Agencies)
"This heritage is deeply imbued with the idea of being 'one people.' It is a celebration of our diversity, our plural culture, our many languages, religions and different modes of life. This was the idea that moved those who strove for India's freedom. Our deep and abiding commitment to democracy stems from this idea. We continue to be guided by these ideals. We remain committed to them not because it is our past but because it is also our future," he said.
The Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted by the government in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The President said, "We must always keep in mind that we are the trustees of the heritage of Mahatma Gandhi. As Trustees, it is our sacred duty to preserve, protect and disseminate this heritage which is truly a legacy of all humanity. In honouring Shri Bhatt, we honour all those countless women and men who became trustees of the nature and who through their embrace expanded our Swaraj," Mukherjee said.
Praising the 80-year-old Gandhian stalwart for his dedicated, tireless and invaluable work for conservation of environment, the President said his life has been his message.
"The Chipko movement started by him (Bhatt) in 1973 followed the same method of peaceful and non-violent Satyagraha for the redressal of the legitimate rights of the hill people to collect wood and fodder and saving them from natural calamities owing to large scale deforestation,” said the President.
"It highlights the unique responsibility of protecting creation that has been placed on human beings. The Chipko movement was and continues to be a movement of deep love. Love as enacted in the act of hugging trees. This action meant embracing nature in all its diversity, bounty and munificence," he said.
The President, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement, said that Gandhi believed that there was no use for economics without ethics.
"This simple injunction created a moral frame within which human ingenuity has to function. By placing ethics at the heart of economics, Gandhiji gave us an idea whose
significance we have just begun to understand," he said.
Mukherjee also said that 'Ahimsa' was not just a method or an instrument.
"It requires recognition of the humanity of others, including the humanity of those we seek to challenge including the State. It is an active force that embraces the other, eradicating the differences between I and Thou," he said.
The President said that in 2019, "We will mark the 150th anniversary of Gandhiji's birth, which we can truly celebrate by ending the indignity of homes without toilets and making a success of the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' announced by the government to ensure hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the country.”
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, too, congratulated Chandi Prasad Bhatt for being conferred the prestigious Gandhi Peace prize, saying that it was an honour for the state.
Rawat, who is recuperating at AIIMS in Delhi from a neck injury, said, "Bhatt has made the state proud by bagging the prestigious prize."
“Honour to Bhatt will also lend credence to the steps taken by the state in the field of environment protection,” Rawat said.
The President, during the event held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, said that the prize was an expression of "our belief that the ideals Gandhiji espoused are part of our collective living heritage.”