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Shabana 1st Indian to win Gandhi Peace Prize

By Indrani Roy Mitra
Last updated on: September 11, 2006 17:13 IST
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Shabana Azmi makes every Indian stand six inches taller as she becomes the first Indian to receive the prestigious International Gandhi Peace Prize for her contribution in social work.

Previous recipients of this award include Nobel Laureates, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The award is granted by the London-based Gandhi Foundation. The actor's husband, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, will accompany her to the award ceremony in London, where she will also deliver the annual Gandhi lecture at the House of Lords on October 26.

Azmi told that she is "overwhelmed and accepts the honour in all humility."

"In today's strife-ridden world," she adds, "Gandhian values of non-violence as a means of conflict resolution have gained great significance. Nowadays, people talk about Gandhigiri, thanks to Lage Raho Munnabhai."

"Gandhi was an uncompromising spirit and a tough negotiator. He had such an all-pervading influence on our lives that his fragrance seems to be in the air till now."

Azmi says her name was chosen last November. In May, the committee had an interaction with her in London.

Though she had been unofficially declared the winner some time ago, she received a confirmation from the Foundation two days ago.

This is Azmi's fourth international award for social justice and human rights. At the bicentenial celebrations of International Human Rights in Paris in 1989, French President Francois Mitterand honoured Azmi along with Mother Teresa and another Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.

In 2000, the acclaimed actress was conferred the Martin Luther King Award by the state of Michigan in the United States.

Earlier this year, she won an award at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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Indrani Roy Mitra