(By Our Staff Reporter) United Nations , New York- On December 11, 2017, Belarus, Georgia and India joined with Diwali Foundation USA, as Co-Organizers, to bestow “Power of One” Awards – essentially the “Oscars of Diplomacy”:
upon six exceptional diplomats: Amb. Maged Abdelaziz, Amb. Ion Botnaru, Amb. Lakshmi Puri, Amb. Matthew Rycroft, Amb. Nawaf Salam, & Amb. Yuriy Sergeyev. This historic event was co-sponsored by Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Cyprus, France, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malta, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Permanent Observer State of Palestine, and International Atomic Energy Agency-NY.
Belarus’ Amb. Rybakov, Master of Ceremonies invited Georgia’s Amb. Kaha Imnadze, India’s Amb. Syed Akbaruddin, Diwali Foundation’s chair Ranju Batra, National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs Chair Ravi Batra along with Amb. Frantisek Ruzicka, Chef de Cabinet to President of the 72nd General Assembly, H.E. Miroslav Lajcak, to light the Diya.
He expressed gratitude to all nations who agreed to Co-Sponsor the Award Ceremony, and named each of them individually. He said, “Having Diwali event held already second year in a row is hopefully becoming a regular tradition here in the United Nations. Being a symbol of charity, kindness and peace, Diwali is in lockstep with the goals and ideals of the United Nations. After a very successful launch of the Diwali stamp in 2016, this is now transformed into the “the power of one” awards acknowledging the role a person can play in the International community. We all hope that the “power of one” award will illuminate the way forward towards a more peaceful, safe and secure world in the United Nations and beyond.”
India’s Amb. Akbaruddin said: “Thank you Valentin and thank you Kaha for taking the initiative to launch – what started off last time as the “power of one” by Ranju, and then Ravi actually made it a “2 for 1” – and that’s with the “power of one” is: that you always carry your better-half with you. “It is a pleasure and an honor to join all of you here at this special Diwali Stamp ‘Power of One’ event. I want to start by thanking Permanent Representative H.E. Valentin Rybakov for the key role played by him in bringing this initiative to the United Nations. I also want to thank the co-organizer – Georgia and the over 20 co-sponsoring States, Observers and the IAEA for their support and collaboration to make this event possible.
It is also my pleasure to commend the leadership and hard work of Ms. Ranju Batra, Chair of Diwali Foundation USA Inc. and Mr. Ravi Batra, ChairNational Advisory Council South Asian Affairs, in institutionalizing the legacy and message of the Diwali Forever Stamp through the ‘Power of One’ award.
Diwali Foundation USA Chair Ranju Batra’s in her remarks, said:
“Thank you Amb. Valentin Rybakov for your warm introduction. Indeed, I thank every Speaker – Ambassadors Ruzicka, Akbaruddin, Imnadze, Boukadoum, Umarov and Yelchenko for your national, and personal, support and kindness.
As you know, I was determined to succeed in my goal to get the USPS to issue a Diwali Stamp, despite knowing many others had tried and given up. I spent nearly 7 years chasing it peacefully, and using only inclusive and respectful means. Along the way, I got a lot of help from a lot of people. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney accepted my invitation and provided national political leadership. I was happy that there were stamps for Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid, and Kwanza; but I also wanted one for Diwali. In October 2016, we won and got our Forever Diwali Stamp. I personally sold over 170,000 stamps to make the Diwali Stamp the USPS’ #1 Bestseller for Day One in its over 200 year existence. Among many who were of great support were Shiv Dass, now a Director of Diwali Foundation USA, Neeta Jain, Surinder Kathuria, Neeta Bhasin, Air India’s Vandana Sharma, Amb. Dnyaneshwar Mulay, and each of you who signed our petitions – which included many in the UN family – such as Palestine’s Ambassador’s daughter Reem Mansour. Aside from my Grassroot efforts, I also secured support from India’s Prime Minister Modi and America’s President Obama.
Days after the Official Dedication, we attended a dinner hosted by Georgia’s Ambassador Imnadze, and I told my story. Next day, Belarus’ Ambassador Dapkiunas called Ravi to tell him that he had booked this historic Chamber to celebrate the Diwali Stamp and honor my journey at the UN.
At that celebration last year, Minister Rybakov spoke of my determined efforts as “The Power of One,” and now-Minister Dapkiunas spoke of the Diwali Stamp’s journey being consistent with the highest ideals of the UN Charter, and that Diwali was Global. That event, like a seed, with added prompting, grew this year into the Diwali Foundation USA. In turn, that resulted in today’s inauguration of the “Power of One” Awards being bestowed upon globally exceptional people – who have toiled selflessly “to help form a more perfect,” peaceful and secure world for all of us.
This slate of Honorees has set the bar quite high for all future honorees. Whatever the UN Charter dreams of, the Diwali Foundation’s “Power of One” Honorees have helped to make it a reality!
Finally, I thank Belarus, Georgia and India for being Co-Organizers. I also thank every Co-Sponsor of today’s event, as well as the ambassadors, who by their presence, are supporting these Awards. The Co-Sponsors are: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Cyprus, France, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malta, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Permanent Observer State of Palestine, and International Atomic Energy Agency-NY.
At the core of our purpose, is the concept of harmonious inclusion. Respect of all peoples and all cultures, serves as the only proven path to a peaceful and just society. Diwali Stamp proves it. May God bless each nation, so every person is blessed too. That will make Diwali, Global.”
National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs Chair Ravi Batra’s remarked:
“Thank you – Ambassador Rybakov. I’m grateful to Belarus for the moral courage to see Diwali – as a universal celebration of the victory of Good, Light, Knowledge and Hope and work towards the necessary & ultimate defeat of Evil, Darkness, Ignorance and Despair – “to form a more perfect” world.
All of you have just heard Ranju talk about how “Today” – was born. Last year, it was Andrei Dapkiunas the Bold – who saw Diwali as the embodiment of the highest ideals of the United Nations, and took it Global. It was Minister Valentin Rybakov who characterized Ranju’s peaceful 7yr Journey, respectful of all religions, use inclusive-based perseverance to get the Diwali Stamp: as the “Power of One.” That Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin of India, home of Diwali, allowed another nation to take the Lead speaks of his quiet confidence in humanity & diplomacy. That Ambassador Kaha Imnadze of Georgia – who played host to the the birth of last year’s event, and now is a co-organizer is the very definition of both History made, and History corrected.
I must acknowledge the Co-Sponsors, and the Speakers from their midst. The Sponsorship is a principled statement by these nations that Humanity & Religious mooring ought not be banned, but rather, cherished – if Good, Light, Knowledge & Hope – are to be given to our kids and grandkids so they can have a “more perfect” world. So, I thank each nation, each PR, and all Ambassadors present as well as Ambassador Sabri Boukadoum, Ambassador Kairat Umarov, now-Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, and Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko for their support and embrace. As a die-hard American, who claims intellectual ancestry to Thomas Jefferson, I especially thank Amb. Nikki Haley for America’s Co-Sponsorship.
Turning to our Honorees, I note the irony: that “It takes a village to raise a child,” but with the “Power of One” you can save the world: Be it Brahma, Jehovah, Jesus, or Allah. But, that of course, is the Divine Power of One, even as we celebrate great mortals today.
Ultimately, the “Power of One” Awards – to paraphrase our exceptional Constitution – is “to help form a more perfect” world. Even Thomas Becket and the Barons in 1215 at Runnymede who got the Magna Carta could not imagine what occurred in Philadelphia in 1789; and we are most grateful to England because we stand on these wonderful shoulders. And thank you for the Common Law, as one of our Honorees will be gracing the International Court of Justice.