Two Indians Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six who have been declared winners of 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, often referred to as Asian version of the Nobel Prize. Others are are Youk Chhang (Cambodia), Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz (East Timor), Howard Dee (Philippines) and Vo Thi Hoang Yen (Vietnam). The winners will each receive certificate, medallion bearing image of late Filipino leader Ramon Magsaysay and cash prize. They will be conferred with award during formal presentation ceremony at Cultural Centre in Philippines in August 2018.
Bharat Vatwani: He is a psychiatrist who works for mentally-ill people living on the streets in Mumbai. The award recognizes his courage and compassion in embracing India’s mentally-afflicted destitute and his dedication to work of restoring and affirming human dignity of even most ostracized.
Sonam Wangchuk: He is educational reformer from Ladakh. In 1988, he had founded Students’ Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh to coach poor Ladakhi students. The award recognizes his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote Ladakh region which has helped to improve life opportunities of youths. He is widely regarded as inspiration for Aamir Khan’s character, Phunsuk Wangdu in the film ‘3 Idiots’.
Ramon Magsaysay Award
It is Asia’s highest honour and is often regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It was established in 1957 by trustees of the New York City based Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Philippine government in the memory of Philippines’ third President Ramon Magsaysay who had died in air disaster in March 1957. It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations from Asia region for their altruistic and philanthropic service. It carries Medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, cash prize and a certificate.