Whistle-blower Sanjiv Chaturvedi and activist Anshu Gupta are the two Indians among the five people honoured on Wednesday with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2015.
Activist Kommaly Chanthavong from Laos, actor Kyaw Thu of Myanmar and dancer Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa from Philippines were the other three winners.
The award, started in memory of Philippines President Ramon Magsaysay who died in a plane crash in 1957, is the most renowned prize to celebrate “transformative leadership” in Asia. The award has been awarded to prominent Asian public servants, journalists, writers, artists and activists since 1958.
A statement issued by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said Chaturvedi was honoured for "his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office, and his resolute crafting of program and system improvements to ensure that government honourably serves the people of India".
Chaturvedi was the Chief Vigilance Commissioner at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. He was removed from the post in August last year and has alleged he was transferred for revealing corrupt practices at the premier state-run health facility.
An Indian Forest Service officer and currently the deputy secretary of AIIMS, Chaturvedi was in the news recently when chief minister Arvind Kejriwal requested the Central government to allow him to appoint Chaturvedi as an officer on special duty for the Delhi government.
Anshu Gupta heads the NGO Goonj that focuses on providing clothing to the poor. The Foundation’s statement praised "his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity."
Gupta's Goonj recycles clothes discarded by urban households and provides them "as a development resource for villages, moving away from its age-old stance as a charitable object".
Top cop and BJP leader Kiran Bedi, singer MS Subbulakshmi and the father of India’s white revolution, Verghese Kurien, were among earlier Indian winners of the award. Kejriwal too won the award in 2006.