Two Indians, an anti-manual scavenging activist and musician, who seek for ensuring social inclusiveness in culture have won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2016. They are among the total six awardees selected for the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award, often regarded as Asia’s Nobel Prize.
Mr. Bezwada Wilson, 50, has been recognized for ‘asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity’. Wilson, who founded the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), has won the Ramon Magsaysay award for his work towards eradicating the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. He has been working towards eradicating the practice of manual scavenging from the Indian villages. Born in a Dalit family and a community of manual scavengers in the Kolar Gold Fields, a town in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, he even witnessed his own parents clean toilets and carry human excreta. His organisation welcoming his award issued an official press release, "Treated as an outcast in school and acutely aware of his family's lot, Bezwada was filled with great anger; but he would later channel this anger to a crusade to eradicate manual scavenging".
Mr. Thodur Madabusi Krishna, 42, has been recognized for ensuring ‘social inclusiveness in culture’. He is a celebrated Carnatic music vocalist. Krishna is credited for his resolve to break barriers of caste, class and creed by democratizing music. Krishna, known for his unconventional renderings and search for new avenues in the traditional music form, has gone on record saying he wants a Dalit to break into the Brahmin-dominated Carnatic world and win the top honour of Kalaimamani.
In addition to the two winners from India, the other awardees are - Philippines Ombudsperson Conchita Carpio Morales; Indonesian NGO Dompet Dhuafa; Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, an organisation of some 30,000 volunteers who work in 80 countries; and ‘Vientiane Rescue’ of Laos, an NGO operating in the health field.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is often regarded as Asia’s Nobel Prize. Established in 1957, it is Asia’s highest honour. The prize was established by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government. It is named after Philippines’ 3rd President Ramon Magsaysay, who died in air disaster in March 1957. This annual award is established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay's example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society. The award carries a Medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, cash prize (amount $30,000) and a certificate.