World acclaimed orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta was on Friday conferred the prestigious Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Mehta (77), a maestro in western classical music who conducts the Bavarian State Orchestra, was described by the President as a "distinguished son of India" whose mission "has been to bring peace where there is misery and conflict." At a ceremony in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President presented a golden plaque, a citation, shawl and Rs1 crore to Mehta, a day before he performs with his troupe on the banks of the Dal lake in Srinagar.
The award citation pays Mehta rich tributes and says that "no other Indian has achieved such distinction in the world of Opera".
"In our divided world, there are few who rise above nation yet stay rooted to home, remain proof against prejudice and sensitive to suffering and bring joy to people through their lifelong work. One such individual is Zubin Mehta," read the citation.
Calling Mehta's felicitation with this award a "wonderful choice", Mukherjee said his work as a composer was a deep devotion to the cause of humanity.
"It's only appropriate that this award should be conferred upon him," Mukherjee said. The award is given to a person who has worked selflessly for promoting cultural harmony irrespective of whether he holds a high public office or not.
Calling himself a "simple musician", Mehta, who has earlier been decorated with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, spoke about Nobel laureate Tagore and lamented that Mahatma Gandhi was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.