Two Indians, Karnataka’s Bezwada Wilson and Chennai’s T M Krishna got this year’s Ramon Magsaysay award. Wilson has been nominated as an awardee for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity” and Krishna was chosen for the ‘Emergent Leadership’ category for “social inclusiveness in culture”.
Apart from them, the other four awardees are Dompet Dhuafa of Indonesia, Vientiane Rescue of Laos, Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Philippines and Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.
According to Wilson’s citation, “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.”
He is an Indian activist and he is one of the founders of an Indian human rights organization, Safai Karmochari Andolan (SKA). This organization has been campaigning for eradicating manual scavengers. He is the leading figure of the Dalit Movement in India.
He is the son of manual scavenger. In his school he was teased by other students, they called him ‘thoti’, means scavenger. Later, when he came to know his parents actual occupation he contemplated to suicide.
After his graduation he involved in community service. He always tried hard to help children to complete their schooling and take vocational training which keep them away from scavenging.
In his life struggle he experienced caste discrimination. In 1986, he began his fight against manual scavenging. He faced many hurdles on his way.
Any obstacles couldn’t deter him to continue his campaign. Magsaysay award is the proof.
Hats off to him.
T M Krishna
He is a Karnatic music vocalist. He belongs to a family of music connoisseurs. Krishna’s mother has founded several educational institutions. He has collaborated with many artists like Karnatic musicians and the artists from other genres and art forms.
Over 15 years he teaches music. In 2013, he wrote his first book ‘A Southern Music’ which was released by Noble Laureate Amartya Sen.
Ramon Magsaysay Award
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay. The award foundation gives the prize to Asian individuals achieving experience in their respective fields. The six categories in which the awards are given:
- Government Service
- Public Service Community Leadership
- Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts
- Peace and International Understanding
- Emergent Leadership