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`Alternative Nobel' for Asghar Ali Engineer, Swami Agnivesh

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , Sept. 20

THE Stockholm-based Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which met here for the first time outside Sweden in last 25 years, chose social worker Swami Agnivesh and Muslim scholar Asghar Ali Engineer for the 2004 honorary awards, which is referred to as an alternative Nobel Prize.

Along with them, Bianca Jagger, a Nicaraguan, who showed over years how celebrity can be put at the service of the exploited and disadvantaged, Raul Montenegro, an Argentine scientist, and Russian organisation Memorial, were chosen for 2004 awards. They would together share award money of two million Swedish Kroners equivalent to $220,000 (just over Rs 1 crore).

Addressing a press conference here today, the Chairman of Right Livelihood Foundation, Mr Jakob von Uexkull, Mr Francho Bracho, former Ambassador to India, and Mr Vittal Rajan, from the foundation, said these awards were given to people for their strong commitment to promote values of co-existence and would be presented on December 9 in the Swedish Parliament, a day before the Nobel Prizes are announced.

The awards founded in 1980 are in recognition of dedicated work at community level in spheres of development, human rights, ecology, renewable energy and gender empowerment.

They said the 2004 Right Livelihood Award goes to two distinguished Indian religious figures who have worked unceasingly for social justice and communal harmony for more than two decades.

These two were chosen "for their strong commitment and cooperation over many years to promote the values of co-existence, tolerance and understanding in India and between the countries of South Asia."

Mr Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German philatelist,sold his valuable postage stamps to provide the original endowment.

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