Max Schmidheiny Stiftung

Issued: Max Schmidheiny Foundation freedom prize for 2001 awardet to Lennart Meri and N. R. Narayana Murthy

Issued on: Saturday, May 19, 2001, 09.30 a.m.

    St. Gallen (ots) - On Saturday, May 19, in St. Gallen, Lennart Meri, President of the Republic of Estonia, and N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of  Infosys Technologies, were presented with the Max Schmidheiny Foundation's Freedom Prize for the year 2001. The presentation took place at the 31st ISC Symposiums in the great hall of the University of St. Gallen. An audience of more than 800 guests from all over the world heard Dr Stephan Schmidheiny, President of the Foundation Council, describe the achievements of the prizewinners.

    Every year, the Max Schmidheiny Foundation honours persons and institutions who have contributed to the maintenance and further development of a free social and economic order. It thereby promotes outstanding scientific, political and entrepreneurial initiatives and achievements that safeguard individual freedom and responsibility. This year's value of the prize is CHF 200,000.-; it was awarded for the 23rd time.

    Referring to the overall topic of the 31st ISC Symposium, the „New Balance of Power",  Dr Stephan Schmidheiny discussed the role of freedom as a "variable" in the interplay of forces. He paid particular attention to the factors that are important for ensuring a maximum level of individual freedom within the context of the balance of power, which is constantly being changed as a result of the continuous interaction between the authorities and interested parties.

    Freedom and individual responsibility have been enhanced by the commitment of the prizewinners, Lennart Meri and N. R. Narayana Murthy, in their own spheres of activity, politics and business, whose development they have actively helped to form.

    Lennart Meri has been honoured as an author and intellectual who expressed with a poet's touch in his literary and cinematic works the hopes and fears of his fellow countrymen and in so doing made a significant contribution to maintaining the national identity of the Estonian people during the period of Soviet occupation. As a statesman, Meri's courageous yet judicious quest for freedom and democracy shaped Estonia's aspirations to gain independence peacefully and turned him into a moral and political authority within his country. By supporting exemplary reforms in social policy, a market-based economy and the reinstatement of democratic institutions, Meri, a quintessential European, instilled self-confidence and pride in his people. He has unfalteringly smoothed Estonia's path into the community of democratic states, not merely by emphasizing the historical bonds between Estonia and Europe.

    By awarding the prize to N. R. Narayana Murthy, the Max Schmidheiny Foundation is honouring an entrepreneur who consistently denounced the system of planned economy, control and suppression of personal initiative and the bureaucracy that left India stagnating during the 1980s and who, with a firm resolve, grasped the opportunities once the new and more open economic order allowed him to establish a trend-setting cyber company. As the pioneer of a meritocratic business culture who placed his trust in the know-how of local specialists, Murthy thus made his company a beacon of quality performance and commitment for employees, investors and the general public. He made full use of the untapped potential of Indian business culture and innovation and - ultimately - added both to the strength of the Indian economy and his country's competitiveness. As an advocate of social justice, Murthy sees the creation of individual wealth by means of honest gainful activity as the best solution to poverty, India's greatest curse. He is obviously aware that in India, such a goal can only be attained with realism, modesty and the will to combine an appropriate degree of modernization with continued adherence to the spirit - rather than the form - of tradition.

ots Originaltext: Max Schmidheiny Foundation

Max Schmidheiny Foundation
at the University of St. Gallen
P.O. Box 1045
CH-9001 St. Gallen
Phone +41 71 227 20 70

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