Commonwealth Secretary-General receives the inaugural Heartfulness Changemaker award and inspires youth during India visit

19 January 2024
Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, receives the Changemaker Award

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, has been honoured by the Heartfulness Institute in India for her service to the education, growth, and success of young people across 56 Commonwealth countries.

The award ceremony took place at Kanha Shanti Vanam, the world headquarters of the organisation.

The Heartfulness Changemaker Award is conferred on an individual who has exemplified a commitment to service through compassionate action in their areas of work. It is also dedicated to promoting a more unified and compassionate global community.

Accepting the inaugural award on January 12 - National Youth Day in India and a day that coincides with the birth anniversary of an Indian Hindu monk and philosopher, Swami Vivekananda, the Secretary-General said:

“To be with you all here on India’s National Youth Day, joined in person and online by so many thousands of young people, and to receive this Changemaker Award, is a moment I will always treasure.”

“In our lives, we all try to create and send out our own positive ripples of change. But I am not only here because of the ripples I have made; I am here as a representative of the ripples which millions of people across our Commonwealth and our world have sent out.”

She continued:

“Our Commonwealth is special. You, the young people of India, are a special part of it. I am so grateful that Heartfulness has joined governments, institutions, and citizens at all levels in celebrating our Year of Youth.”

“Your efforts here contribute to a shift in our collective mindset: Recognising that young people are not just beneficiaries of our efforts; they are active agents of change, partners in development, and leaders of today.”

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC
Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, speaking at the award ceremony 

Youth engagement and support

In a show of solidarity for youth engagement projects and youth work, the Secretary-General joined forces with the Institute at the launch of the Heartfulness Essay Competition with the theme “Compassionate Action: Creating a More Unified Humanity.” 

Commenting on the launch, Kamlesh D. Patel, also known as Daaji, the President of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission and the Guide of Heartfulness, said:

“We are delighted to have the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, visit us in Kanha Shanti Vanam. In her years of service, she has gone above and beyond to support youth globally, which is what we hope to achieve through our Heartfulness initiatives.”

“I am happy to begin this partnership with Secretary-General Scotland and the Commonwealth through the Heartfulness Essay Event, which is focused on compassionate action. I am certain this is only the beginning of the many great things we will all achieve by working together.”

The essay competition is open to youth ages 14-25. 

Building stronger youth networks

The virtual and in-person events brought together over 150,000 young people across India, including Heartfulness Learning Centre students, who were given a platform to engage the Secretary-General in conversations about service for a peaceful and unified humanity. 

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, with students at the Heartfulness Institute
Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, met with students from the Heartfulness Learning Center

Other highlights of the Secretary-General’s visit to Heartfulness centres, also known as HeartSpots, included the launch of Youth Unite, an initiative committed to bringing together young people to network, exchange ideas, and encourage open-mindedness by sharing diverse and unique perspectives. Daaji also led yoga wellness activities and meditation sessions.

The Secretary-General also met civic leaders, key environment stakeholders, and members of the Commonwealth family in India. The Secretary-General and the Commonwealth delegation also visited Damarpalli Lake on the Kanha Shanti Vanam’s campus, where officials exhibited water conversation efforts to support climate mitigation efforts.

Watch the live stream of the award ceremony

Media contact

  • Ijeoma Onyeator  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

  • +447483 919976  |  E-mail