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Meet the two Indians who have won the prestigious Magsaysay Award this year

Think Change India
28th Jul 2018
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Two Indians, Sonam Wangchuk, and Bharat Vatwani, are among the six personalities who have won this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award. The awards will be presented on August 31 at Main Theatre, Cultural Centre of the Philippines.

Sonam Wangchuk and Vatwani Bharat (Source: NDTV and Mumbai Mirror)

Sonam, who inspired Hindi film actor Aamir Khan's character in the movie 3 Idiots, is recognised "for his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote northern India, thus improving the life opportunities of Ladakhi youth, and his constructive engagement of all sectors in the local society to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress, thus setting an example for minority peoples in the world," the award foundation said.

The other recipient, Bharat Vatwani, is a Mumbai-based doctor who set up a rehabilitation foundation to rescue mentally-ill persons living on the streets. He is recognised for "his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing India's mentally-afflicted destitute", and for starting an informal operation of bringing mentally-ill street persons to his private clinic for treatment.

In 1988, he founded Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation that was aimed at rescuing mentally-ill persons living on the streets; providing free shelter, food, and psychiatric treatment; and reuniting them with their families, says The News Minute. In the last few years since its inception, the organisation has helped reunite over 7,000 mentally ill people with their families in India and Nepal.

In an interview with the Indian Express, he says,

In all my depressing moments if there is one person who continues to inspire me, it is Baba Amte. I used to subconsciously end up hunting for a father figure in all the elders that I would meet and my search ended with Baba. He guided me and now this award has recognised the cause of the mentally ill roadside destitute persons.

The other recipients of the annual honour include Cambodia's Youk Chhang, Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz from East Timor, Howard Dee and Vietnam's Vo Thi Hoang Yen. In its 60th year, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is recognised as Asia's premier prize for honoring the greatness of spirit and transformative leadership in selfless service to the peoples of Asia.

Over the last few years, over 330 individuals and organisations have joined the distinguished community of Ramon Magsaysay awardees, says NDTV. The award is dedicated to people immaterial of the nationality, race, creed and gender they belong to and focuses to speak on human development across Asia.

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