Noted social worker Ela Ramesh Bhatt was on Monday conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development by President Pranab Mukherjee.
After receiving the award, Elaben (80), founder of Self-Employed Women's Association (Sewa), said the prize is recognition of hard work by the all poor working women and their leadership worldwide, who hold peace, disarm violence and reduce poverty with their honest work. She said that award has given her the opportunity to explore what constitutes the peace.
“I have often stated that poverty is violence. This violence is by consensus of society that lets other human beings go without roti, kapada and makan. Poverty is not god given. It is a moral collapse of our society. Garibi hatao to me also meant, indeed, shanti banao. Garibi Hatao is a peace song,” said founder of Sewa which has 17 lakh members now.
She said that when Mahatma Gandhi talked about Swaraj, he talked about economic decentralisation. She urged people to ensure that six basic needs are met from resources within 100 miles.
“I call it the 100-mile principle. 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 take note of,” she said. She insisted that catching up with the western economic models will turn us into incompetent followers, not leaders.