The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation on Wednesday declared its list of 2016 awardees and two Indians have found a place in it. Acclaimed Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna and human rights activist Bezwada Wilson find their place on the list.
40-year-old T.M. Krishna from Chennai, has been conferred the award for his efforts on ‘ensuring social inclusiveness in culture.’
“He saw that his was a caste-dominated art that fostered an unjust, hierarchic order by effectively excluding the lower classes from sharing in a vital part of India’s cultural legacy. He questioned the politics of art; widened his knowledge about the arts of the dalits (“untouchables”) and non-Brahmin communities; and declared he would no longer sing in ticketed events at a famous, annual music festival in Chennai to protest the lack of inclusiveness. Recognizing that dismantling artistic hierarchies can be a way of changing India’s divisive society, Krishna devoted himself to democratizing the arts as an independent artist, writer, speaker, and activist,” reads the citation.
Whereas, Bezwada Wilson, who was born to a Dalit family in Karnataka, has been lauded for his efforts towards “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity.”
“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 read.
The Ramon Magsaysay award is named after former Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay and is conferred to leaders from Asia for their selfless service to society, to honour “greatness of spirit in selfless service to the peoples of Asia”.
Other awardees this year
Apart from the two Indians, the 2016 award has been bestowed on four other people — Conchita Carpio-Morales from the Philippines, Dompet Dhuafa from Indonesia, Vientiane Rescue from Laos and the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.
The award has been given to Carpio-Morales for her work in “restoring faith in the rule of law”. Dhuafa has been awarded for “expanding the transformative impact of zakat”, which in Islam is a form of alms-giving and religious tax. Vientiane Rescue is a group that’s been awarded for its volunteering to save lives at risk. And Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers Building receives the award for contributing “to the reconstruction and progress of developing countries” towards the goal of building a world of genuine solidarity.
The Logical Indian congratulates Mr. Krishna and Mr. Wilson for winning the award. We hope your works will inspire many from this country to take up the cause of fighting for a better society. We request the government, both state and center to recognize their efforts, felicitate them and project them as symbol of what India stands for and what as a country we aspire to be.