Two Indians have received the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay award, acclaimed Carnatic musician TM Krishna and social activist Bezwada Wilson. Krishna was conferred the award for his “ensuring social inclusiveness in culture” while Wilson was recognised for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity”.
The four other awardees this year are Conchita Carpio-Morales from the Philippines, Dompet Dhuafa from Indonesia, Vientiane Rescue from Laos and the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.
Carpio-Morales is awarded for “restoring faith in the rule of law”. Dhuafa has been honoured for “expanding the transformative impact of zakat”. In Islam, Zakat is a form of alms-giving and religious tax. Vientiane Rescue is a group which volunteers to save lives at risk. Japan Oversea Cooperation Volunteers Building contributed “to the reconstruction and progress of developing countries”.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is awarded annually to leaders from Asia for their contribution to society. It is named after the former Philippines President Ramon Magsaysay. Those excelling in the fields of government service, public service, community leadership, journalism, literature and creative communication arts, peace and international understanding and emergent leadership are recognised.
The exact citation for Krishna reads, “In electing Thodur Madabusi Krishna to receive the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all.”
“In electing Bezwada Wilson to receive the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his moral energy and prodigious skill in leading a grassroots movement to eradicate the degrading servitude of manual scavenging in India, reclaiming for the dalits the human dignity that is their natural birthright,” Wilson’s citation read. “Fifty years old, Bezwada Wilson has spent 32 years on his crusade, leading not only with a sense of moral outrage but also with remarkable skills in mass organizing, and working within India’s complex legal system. SKA has grown into a network of 7,000 members in 500 districts across the country. Of the estimated 600,000 scavengers in India, SKA has liberated around 300,000.”
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