Mahatma Gandhi is universally acknowledged as Yugapurusha, the man of the Millennium. He was a phenomenon of the modern era. He represented the distilled culture of India. He stood for truth and non-violence in thought and action.
The present tendency to globalise human activity in the wake of communication revolution and instant transmission of information renders earlier concept of national rivalries and antagonism untenable. Our ancient scripture Rig Veda has said that the World is a family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) and Gandhiji strove hard to inculcate that idea among all the people irrespective of creed, religion, ethnic or other differences.
This year's Gandhi Peace Prize is awarded to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for its significant contribution towards spread of education, integration of the best of ancient and modern values and promotions of peace and harmony among all faiths and communities.
Established in the year 1938 by Dr. K. M. Munshi with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi and with the support of several stalwarts of India's freedom movement, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has steadily risen to its present stature and grown into not only a significant national but also an international organization.
Over the past six decades, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has evolved into a movement intellectual, cultural and educational. The Bhavan has come to be recognized as a fountain of activities, in the literary, educational, ethical, cultural and spiritual life of India. Currently, with its over 100 centres in India, seven overseas centres, a large number of schools and job-oriented courses and professional colleges, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has been making a significant contribution to elevate the people mentally, morally and spiritually.
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan brings out a vast range of publications on philosophy, indology, scriptures, modern life and Gandhian thinking. These and its journals in English, Hindi, and Gujarati are devoted to life, literature and culture and promotion of Inter Faith Harmony.
Through its Gandhi Centre for Sciences and Human Values, it has taken up the exemplary task of publishing small books at affordable prices on issue relating to the development of human values. Through its Gandhi Institute of Computer Education & Information Technology, it imparts free computer education to educated unemployed youth belonging to the weaker sections of society.
To commemorate the 125th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the same year when the Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan established Sadachar Bharati for promotion of values and purity in public life and rural regeneration.
In order to promote communal harmony, the Bhavan also organises Sarva Dharma Maithri programmes and prayers.
Gandhiji has said that science without spiritual values would result in ruination; and science with spiritual values would lead to total welfare of all and to non-exploitative use of nature. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is contributing to this desired synthesis of science and spirituality.
In the present era, it is important to acquaint the youth with the philosophy and ideals in their formative years.
By honouring Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan with the Gandhi Peace Prize, the commitment to follow the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi for advancement of global peace is reiterated.
The President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam presented Gandhi Peace Prize for 2002 to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan at a function in New Delhi on March 18, 2003 (Tuesday). The former President Shri R. Venkataraman received the award on behalf of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee also attended the function.
As a tribute to the ideals espoused by Gandhi, the Government of India launched the International Gandhi Peace Prize in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This is an annual award given to individuals and institutions for their contributions towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods. The award carries Rs. 10 million in cash, convertible in any currency in the world, a plaque and a citation. It is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, creed or sex. A five-member jury headed by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee chose Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for International Gandhi Peace Prize 2002 for its "significant contribution towards spreading peace and harmony among all religions and communities on the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi as also integration of best of ancient and modern values".