Hundreds of people, from India and abroad,attended a special ceremonyin 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 andNandita 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.
Master of ceremoniesMira 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, weretruly 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.”
After Bertrand Gros, Chairman of Rolex SA,welcomed guests on behalf of the company,
Nair introducedthe 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 Juryand described the difficulty of choosing the Laureates. “The committee’s job was very challenging because Rolex had received a record 3,500applications 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.