Two Indians have made it to the list of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay award which is regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize. Dr Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk won the award this year.
Other people to receive the award are Howard dee, a person who led peace talks with communist insurgents in the Philippines, Vo Thi Hoang Yen, who fought against discrimination against physically disabled in Vietnam and Maria de Cruz who built care centres for the poor amid civil strife.
Dr Bharat Vatwani
Bharat Vatwani won the award for successfully rehabilitating thousands of mentally ill street paupers and uniting them with their lost families. Dr Bharat Vatwani along with his wife started to bring mentally unstable street paupers to their clinics and treated them. They established Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation in 1988 in Mumbai.
Their aim was to bring in mentally unstable homeless people into their clinic, treat them, provide them with shelter and take care. They finally reunited them with their families. The patients got free custodial care and many other treatments like personal hygiene, medical care etc.
Police, NGOs and social workers helped them in their rescue.
Sonam Wangchuk received it for harnessing nature, culture and education for community progress. In 1988, after completing his formal studies, Sonam founded Students’ Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL). He started teaching Ladakhi students so that they are successful in their government examinations.
In 1994, Wangchuk launched ‘Operation New Hope’ to consolidate the partnership-driven educational reform program. Till date, they have trained over 700 teachers, 1000 VEC leaders, and increased the success rate of students in matriculation exams from just 5% in 1996 to 75% by 2015.
What is the Magsaysay award?
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”. Ramon Magsaysay died in a plane crash in 1957.
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