Noted social worker Ela Ramesh Bhatt was today conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Bhatt, the founder of Self-Employed Women's Association, was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for 2011 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The Prize has been awarded to Bhatt for her lifetime achievements in comprehensively empowering women in India and elsewhere through grassroots entrepreneurship.
The Prize carries a citation and a cash award of Rs 25 lakh.
Accepting the award, she said the Prize had given her the opportunity to re-examine the ideas of what constitutes peace.
"Certainly, absence of war is not peace. Peace is what keeps war away but it is more than that; peace disarms and renders war useless. Peace is a condition enjoyed by a fair and fertile society. Peace is about restoring the balance in society; only then it is lasting peace," she said.
Bhatt cautioned against following western economic models and suggested that six basic, primary needs of a person be met from resources within 100 miles of his place of stay.
"If food, shelter, clothing, primary education, primary healthcare and primary banking are locally produced and consumed, we will have the growth of a new holistic economy, that the world will sit up and take notice" she said.
"Catching up with western economic models will turn us into incompetent followers, not leaders. But if we address the realities of our own countries, we can create a development that makes us leaders of our destiny," Bhatt said.