Presenting the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2014 to Indian space agency ISRO, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said science and technology is a key driver for shaping the destiny of nations and people across the globe.
Conferring the award at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president congratulated every member of the space community for the award.
"Technology is built not so much by individuals but by organizations. The characteristics of organizations - their leaders, their structures and their cultures have a great bearing on catalyzing innovations and putting them to use for the benefit of society," he said, terming the Indian Space Research Organisation is one such organization, which has nurtured, developed and demonstrated world class capabilities.
"Even as it has sought to encompass the globe and reach for the stars, it has remained rooted in its core mission of national regeneration and improving the life of the common man, a goal set for the nation by Mahatma Gandhi," the president said.
He said from a humble beginning through launch of small sounding rockets from Thumba for atmospheric studies, ISRO was now one of the six largest space agencies of the world.
"It has built an indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which is one of the most sought after launch vehicles in its class across the world. It has achieved 29 successful flights of the PSLV launching not only Indian satellites but also 45 satellites of 19 other countries."
The recent launch of five satellites of Britain marked a new milestone in demonstrating the performance and reliability of the PSLV, Mukherjee said.
He said ISRO has also successfully built the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) with an indigenous cryogenic engine.
The president said India scripted history on September 24 last year as it successfully placed the Mars Orbiter around Mars.
"It is the only country in the world to achieve this feat in its first attempt and the fourth space agency in the world to reach Mars. It makes us even more proud that this mission was achieved at a fraction of the cost incurred by other successful nations," the president said.
He also complimented ISRO for designing people-centric space programmes to support various national priorities such as food and water security, sustainable environmental practices, conservation of resources, livelihood support, poverty alleviation, rural prosperity, education and health care and disaster management.