Two Indians, namely, Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk on July 26, 2018 won the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
Bharat Vatwani is a psychiatrist who works for the mentally-ill street persons, while, Sonam Wangchuk works to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress that has improved the lives of the Ladakhi youth.
Vatwani and Wangchuk are among the six individuals who were declared as the winners of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Other winners are:
• Youk Chhang from Cambodia
• Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz from East Timor
• Howard Dee from the Philippines
• Vo Thi Hoang Yen rom Vietnam
The winners will be formally conferred with the Award during formal presentation ceremony that will be held on August 31, 2018, at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines.
Bharat Vatwani’s contribution and recognition
• Vatwani was recognised for "his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing India's mentally-afflicted destitute, and his steadfast and magnanimous dedication to the work of restoring and affirming the human dignity of even the most ostracised."
• Vatwani and his wife started an informal operation of bringing mentally-ill street persons to their private clinic for treatment.
• Later in 1988, they established the Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation with an aim to rescue mentally-ill persons living on the streets.
• The foundation provides free shelter, food, and psychiatric treatment to such people and work to reunite them with their families.
Sonam Wangchuk’s contribution and recognition
• Wangchuk was 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 local society to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress, thus setting an example for minority peoples in the world".
• Wangchuck was just a 19-year-old engineering student at Srinagar’s National Institute of Technology (NIT) when he went into taking tuitions to finance his schooling and help unprepared students in passing the national college matriculation exams.
• In 1988, after earning his engineering degree, Wangchuk founded ‘Students' Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh’ (SECMOL) and started coaching the Ladakhi student, 95 percent of whom used to fail the government exams.
• In 1994, Operation New Hope (ONH) was launched with Wangchuk in the lead. The operation was launched to expand and consolidate the partnership-driven educational reform programme.
Ramon Magsaysay Award
• The Award was established in 1957 and is widely regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
• It was established in 1957 in the memory of Philippines’ 3rd President Ramon Magsaysay who had died in air disaster in March 1957.
• The awardees receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, and a cash prize.
• The Award honours those individuals whose lives are characterised by selfless service which impacts the lives of many others.
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