Harmony Foundation, set up in 2005 in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai, has been promoting communal harmony among communities and castes, irrespective of religion, creed, and gender. For the last 13 years its annual event called Mother Teresa Memorial Awards honour individuals and organisations that promote peace, equality and social justice, while providing an impetus for society to imbibe these values. The award is given in honour of Mother Teresa.
Each year, the event has grown far and wide with exceptional heroes and organisations receiving the prestigious award for exceptional service to humanity. Nobel laureates like Malala Yousafzai and Dalai Lama, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, former Deputy Speaker of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, Baroness Caroline Cox, UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra, philanthropist Sudha Murthy and Anna Hazare were the recipients of this award.
Significantly, the foundation also hosts the annual Harmony International Conference on the same day as the awards ceremony. Last year, the Vice President of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danish, was the chief guest along with Justice Dalveer Bhandari of the International Court of Justice. In 2016, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, was the chief guest. Prominent motivational speaker, Dr Ravi Zacharias, Union minister and former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and Lt. General Syed Ata Hasnain have inspired the audience in the past.
This year it will focus on often ignored and even forgotten girl child with the theme: ‘Protect Her, Empower Her’ supporting the government’s initiative BetiBachhao, BetiPadhao that will set into motion the UN Women’s Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality initiative. “We want everyone to protect and empower the girl child,” says Dr Abraham Mathai, the visionary, who founded Harmony Foundation. The event this year will celebrate the achievements of women all over the world, who fought oppression right from their childhood. Way to go Dr Mathai.