Indian media: Indira Gandhi Peace Prize to Merkel

PM Manmohan Singh (L) has praised Chancellor Angela Merkel's contribution in strengthening India-Germany ties PM Manmohan Singh (L) has praised Chancellor Angela Merkel's contribution in strengthening India-Germany ties

India's decision to honour German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the 2013 Indira Gandhi Peace Prize will strengthen ties between the two nations, reports say.

The prize is given annually to prominent personalities for their role in world peace, disarmament and development in memory of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

An international jury, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, selected Ms Merkel for "her exemplary leadership in Europe and the world during the financial crisis and her stewardship of German economic growth", reports say.

The Zee News website says "Ms Merkel, who became the first woman to be elected as Chancellor of Germany, has been a strong supporter of close relations with India".

The prize honours Ms Merkel's "leadership role in strengthening productive and mutually beneficial relations with India and other developing countries", the Dainik Jagaran website says.

Some of the former winners of the prize include Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former UN chief Kofi Annan and environmental activist Wangari Maathai.

India remembered Mrs Gandhi on her 96 birthday on Tuesday India remembered Mrs Gandhi on her 96 birthday on Tuesday

Staying with foreign relations, papers feel India must realign its policy on the Maldives and get ready to work with newly elected President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom.

"There are many in New Delhi who feel that another term for (former president) Mohamed Nasheed would have been better for India's interest. After all, the former president was the author of 'India first' policy for his country," the Hindustan Times says in an editorial.

The paper, however, says "it is important for India to look beyond a simple Manichean - 'our man, their man' - foreign policy when it comes to its neighbourhood".

The Pioneer notes that it's time for India to "reconcile with the somewhat surprising victory of Mr Nasheed's rival".

'Pioneering initiative'

In some defence news, the government has given its final go ahead to raise a special military unit along the India-China border, reports say.

This will be "the first corps with strike elements to be deployed close" to the Indian side of the de facto boundary known as the Line of Actual Control, the DNA newspaper reports.

Moving on to domestic news, newspapers and websites are praising the launch of India's first ever "all-women bank".

The Bharatiya Mahila Bank, which begins with seven branches, will employ women, accept deposits from and lend mostly to women.

The Pioneer called the launch "a landmark development" and "a pioneering initiative".

The government "has taken a big step in wooing the country's women voters, who virtually form half of the voting population, by throwing open the first all-woman bank," The Deccan Herald reports.

And finally, in a launch of another kind, the government has unveiled a special website for visually challenged and colour blind people, The Pioneer reports.

The website is "a repository of vast information" on government schemes and parliamentary proceedings.

"Users can dynamically increase or decrease the font size of the content which is also visible in standard contrast and high contrast which is very helpful to colour blind people. Visually challenged people can access the website with the help of Screen Reader facility," a government statement said.

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