Whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who made headlines after blowing the lid off a massive corruption scam at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and social activist Anshu Gupta were among five people awarded the prestigious Magsaysay Award on Wednesday. The duo joins an illustrious list, including social activist Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, journalist P Sainath and singer MS Subbulakshmi, who have been awarded the Magsaysay, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize in the area of protection of people’s rights.
“Chaturvedi is being recognised for his exemplary integrity, courage and tenacity in uncompromisingly exposing and painstakingly investigating corruption in public office,” said the award website.
Activist Kommaly Chanthavong from Laos, actor Kyaw Thu of Myanmar, and dancer Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa of The Philippines were the other winners.
A 2002 batch Indian Forest Service Officer, Chaturvedi was transferred 12 times between 2005 and 2010 by the Haryana government, allegedly for exposing irregularities in the state forest department. Three cases were registered against him before the Centre used its extraordinary powers in 2012 and posted him as a vigilance officer at AIIMS.
But Chaturvedi was removed from the position last August by then health minister Harsh Vardhan after BJP leader JP Nadda sought his transfer.
Chaturvedi said he was a firm believer in PM Narendra Modi’s policy against corruption and he has implemented the same passionately at AIIMS. “On my removal as chief vigilance officer by the health ministry, the prime minister’s office sought a report but the report sent was contrary to records and exposed a nexus between corrupt bureaucrats and political functionaries,” he said.
Gupta, the other winner, founded an NGO Goonj in 1999 after leaving a corporate job. The Delhi-based NGO provides disaster relief, humanitarian aid and community development in 21 states, converting 1,000 tonnes of used clothes, household goods and other urban discards into usable resources for the poor.