The two Indians among six awardees selected for the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award, often regarded as Asia’s Nobel Prize, are the human rights activist Bezwada Wilson (50) and Carnatic musician Thodur Madabusi Krishna (40).

Mr. Bezwada Wilson has been recognized for ‘asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity’. Wilson is the founder of Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), an organisation which is working towards eradicating the practice of manual scavenging from the Indian villages. He has done remarkable work in liberating scores of people engaged in manual scavenging across the country. “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,” his citation reads.

Mr. Thodur Madabusi Krishna has been recognized for ensuring ‘social inclusiveness in culture’. He is a celebrated Carnatic music vocalist. “While much of his work is still ahead of him, he has embarked on an important path. Krishna is resolved to break barriers of caste, class and creed by democratizing music, cultivating thought processes and sensibilities that unite people rather than divide them,” his citation reads.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, established in 1957, is Asia’s highest honour and is often regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations from Asia region for their altruistic and philanthropic service. It was established by trustees of the New York City based Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Philippine government, in the memory of Philippines’ 3rd President Ramon Magsaysay who had died in air disaster in March 1957. The award carries a Medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, cash prize and a certificate.

by Ashwani Srivastva

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