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Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
21-December-2011 12:38 IST
PM’s address at K. Karunakaran Foundation Award function
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh presented the K. Karunakaran Foundation Best Administrator of India Award- 2011 to Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee at a function in New Delhi today. The following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:

It gives me great pleasure to be here at this very unique function to honour my esteemed colleague and friend Shri Pranab Mukherjee with the K. Karunakaran Foundation’s inaugural Best Administrator of India award.

It is indeed most befitting that Shri Pranab Mukherjee has been selected as the first person to receive this award. The citation reads that it is being awarded in recognition of his ‘outstanding services to our nation’.

The Foundation was set up in the memory of an individual who himself embodied the very principles propounded in the citation. Shri Karunakaran exemplified the ideal traits that go into making a great political leader. He had the right mixture of political and administrative acumen, love for his people and the vision of a great patriot and a great nation builder.

I had a long personal association with Shri Karunakaranji and I benefitted enormously from his sage counsel from time to time. Even though he was rooted in the State politics of Kerala, I was always deeply impressed by his strong nationalist aspirations. I regarded him as someone who had a profound understanding of the ebbs and flows of both local and national politics.

On more than one occasion of deep crisis, including when the Congress Party was reduced to a rump in the Kerala State legislature, he stepped in to lead the party. During those difficult times, his unbending will and determination inspired his followers to keep the faith. He achieved what he could because he had deep roots among the people and fearlessly advocated what he believed was right for them.

Shri Karunakaran combined a soaring vision for the development of his beloved State and people with a steely determination to see projects through to completion, whatever the obstacles. His path-breaking leadership led to the setting up of the IT hub of Technopark at Thiruvananthapuram. The public-private partnership model he adopted for the construction of the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery was another pioneering effort much ahead of its time.

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, much like Shri Karunakaran, is a politician of the old school. There are few people in our politics today who can match his long and exemplary record of public service. All those who know him are familiar with his vast knowledge, prodigious memory and capacity for sustained hard work. Less well known is that he is an avid reader with an abiding love for history, the arts and culture, not to mention his weakness for Bengali sweets !

I believe that the successful management of the UPA is due substantially to the inspiring leadership of the Chairperson of the UPA, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and to the very able trouble shooting skills of Pranabji. In running the government, Pranabji has been my most valued colleague. We have consulted closely on all important decisions of our government. I wish to thank him personally for all that he has done to help the government function effectively and cohesively.

Pranabji's knowledge of parliamentary matters is stupendous. The wide respect that he commands and his long association with political leaders across the spectrum have proved invaluable in conducting Parliamentary business. It is unfortunate that despite our best efforts, parliament has not been running smoothly. I would like to say that it is the job of not only the ruling party but all political parties to cooperate constructively in running the House. We should work together to make Parliament live up to the role and ideals that our founding fathers envisioned for it.

My teacher, the great economist Nicholas Kaldor, often used to say that whatever the economic model, in the ultimate analysis, success or failure of a nation would depend on the caliber of the people and the individuals responsible for making it work on the ground. The nation faces serious challenges. We need men of stature, vision and wisdom like the late Shri Karunakaran and Shri Pranab Mukherjee to guide our nation. I conclude by once again congratulating Shri Pranab Mukherjee for receiving this most well deserved honour.

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SH/SM