Ravi Shankar Receives First-Ever George Harrison Humanitarian Award

13 October 2009

Recognition for Efforts in Saving the Lives of Children

New York, NY (Oct. 13, 2009) – Legendary Indian musician and peace advocate, Ravi Shankar has been honored with the first-ever George Harrison Humanitarian Award. The award was presented by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF following Shankar’s concert at Carnegie Hall in New York on October 10.

Shankar was recognized for his unprecedented efforts in saving the lives of children, and his involvement with the Concert for Bangladesh – organized by George Harrison and inspired by Ravi Shankar, the Concert marked the first time rock musicians collaborated for a common humanitarian cause.

“George Harrison and Ravi Shankar have been stalwart advocates on behalf of the world’s children their entire careers,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO, U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Every day 24,000 children die of preventable causes. We are pleased to honor Ravi Shankar with the George Harrison Humanitarian Award for his commitment to reducing that number and believing in zero.”

In 1971, George Harrison staged two concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden that brought together a star-studded cast of musicians including: Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and Billy Preston—to alert the world to the plight of the Bangladeshi people. At that time, the country was ravaged by floods, famine and civil war, which left 10 million people — mostly women and children — displaced and vulnerable.

“The Concert for Bangladesh was one of the most ambitious humanitarian efforts in rock music history,” said Olivia Harrison, Founder of The George Harrison Fund for UNICEF. “The concert focused global attention on the crisis in Bangladesh and raised the consciousness of other musicians and millions of their young fans to a new awareness of UNICEF and its mission in doing whatever it takes to save a child.”

The 1971 concert pioneered the all-star rock benefit concert model, which has since been widely emulated for various causes worldwide. It produced an extraordinary contribution for UNICEF, exceeding $15 million to support programs providing lifesaving assistance to children caught in humanitarian emergencies. The George Harrison Fund for UNICEF continues to support UNICEF programs in Bangladesh while expanding its influence to include other countries in crisis where children are at risk.

For more information, please visit www.unicefusa.org

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress—the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 24,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org


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