Prominent Indian social activist Deep Joshi, who has done pioneering work for 'development of rural communities', was on Monday named along with five others for the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2009, considered as Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Joshi is being recognised for 'his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India, by effectively combining 'head' and 'heart' in the transformative development of rural communities', the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said in a press statement from its headquarters in Manila.
"I am delighted to get this honour. But the award is not for an individual, it is for an idea, for the development of rural population. We need the educated people to go to rural areas and work for their welfare," 62-year-old Joshi said.
A Masters in Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Masters in Management from the Sloan School, MIT, Joshi worked with the Systems Research Institute, the Ford Foundation and has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of rural development and livelihood promotion. He also advises the government on poverty alleviation strategies.
Joshi was the co-founder of Professional Assistance for Development Action and now works as an independent consultant for the NGO, which works for rural poor, promoting self-help groups, developing locally suitable economic activities, mobilising finances and introducing systems to improve livelihoods of rural people.
Thai researcher Krisana Kraisintu, who was working to develop generic drugs for fighting HIV/AIDS and Ka Hsaw Wa, an activist from military-ruled Myanmar who has documented human rights and environmental abuses, were among others to be selected for the honour, named after a popular Philippines President who died in a plane crash in 1957.
Other winners were Ma Jun, a former journalist who launched the first public database on water pollution in China, Yu Xiaogang, founder of the a nonprofit group which helped communities flooded by a dam project in Yunnan province and Filipino lawyer-environmentalist Antonio Oposa Jr.
"The Magsaysay awardees of 2009," said Foundation President Carmencita T Abella, "are true Asian Heroes, putting their advanced knowledge and skills at the service of critical needs of their people."
The six awardees join 271 other laureates who have received the honour to date. They will be conferred the award at a function in Manila on August 31.
Vinoba Bhave, Kiran Bedi, P Sainath, Aruna Roy, Prakash and Mandakini Amte and Rajendra Singh are among the Indians who have received the honour in the past.