Gala ceremony honours 2012 Laureates

Hundreds of people, from India and abroad, attended a special ceremony in New Delhi on 27 November to honour the five 2012 Rolex Laureates: Sergei Bereznuk, Russia; Barbara Block, the United States; Erika Cuéllar, Bolivia; Mark Kendall, Australia; and Aggrey Otieno, Kenya.

Among the distinguished guests, who gathered for the gala dinner in the Durbar Hall at New Delhi’s Taj Palace Hotel, were leading institutional and business leaders, key international diplomats, Maharaja Gaj Singh of Marwar and Jodhpur and Nandita Das, human rights activist and film-maker. They joined many former Laureates and Jury members from the past 36 years, along with the current Jury and Rolex board members, in celebrating the life-changing projects of the five winners.

Bertrand Gros, Chairman of Rolex SA, welcomed guests on behalf of the company. “Rolex is really concerned by the quality of life on our planet and therefore has always wanted to support exceptional individuals who, through their creativity, determination, courage and enthusiasm, bring their own personal touch to the future welfare of mankind.”

He said that the 2012 Laureates “are all pioneers in their own way and possess one essential ingredient, a driving force that Rolex values above all: the spirit of enterprise. Their dedication to a cause and their will to make the world a better place have confirmed our belief that with the right amount of passion, anyone can change everything.”

Master of ceremonies Mira Nair, renowned film-maker and former mentor in the Rolex Arts Initiative, welcomed guests to her “beloved Monsoon Wedding city”. The Rolex Awards, which celebrate individuality and activism, were truly unique, she said. “They are based on the premise that all great strides throughout history have been made by the exceptional vision and the commitment of single individuals.”

Nair introduced the 2012 Laureates. She said that the three men and two women, although worlds apart in nationality, age and background, had “applied their talents and energy to projects close to their hearts, projects that benefit all humanity”.

“This is a mind-blowing honour,” said Australian Laureate Mark Kendall, who won an Award for his revolutionary vaccine-delivery technology. Barbara Block, who is tracking marine predators as part of her project to conserve the oceans, thanked Rolex for “supporting the blue part of the planet”.

IT entrepreneur and vice-chairman of Tata Consultancy Services Subramaniam Ramadorai represented the 2012 Jury and described the difficulty of choosing the Laureates. “The committee’s job was very challenging because Rolex had received a record 3,500 applications from 154 countries for this series,” he said.

Former Rolex Jury member, legendary Indian tennis player, film and TV personality Vijay Amritraj announced five Young Laureates, all pioneers under 30. “This year Rolex received a five-fold increase in the number of young applicants. To honour this surge of young enterprise and to show its belief in the next generation, Rolex decided exceptionally to grant five Young Laureates Awards in 2012,” he said.

The Young Laureates – Karina Atkinson, United Kingdom; Selene Biffi, Italy; Sumit Dagar, India; Arun Krishnamurthy, India; and Maritza Morales Casanova, Mexico – will receive their Awards at a special ceremony in Switzerland next year.

The guests left the event uplifted and inspired by these people who are improving life on Earth.

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