India’s Palagumni Sainath has won the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award, widely regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel prize, for his contributions to journalism, literature and creative communication arts.
Making the announcement, the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) said on Tuesday that Sainath, who has been writing on social issues like farmer suicides in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, is among seven individuals being awarded for their achievement in various fields.
Sainath is being recognised for “his passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s national consciousness”, it said, adding that the award would be presented in a ceremony here on August 31.
Born in Chennai in 1957, Sainath completed a Master’s degree in history before turning to journalism. In Everybody Loves a Good Drought, his bestselling book of 1997, and in hundreds of subsequent articles, Sainath presented his readers with a world that “belied the giddy accounts of India’s economic miracle”, according to the citation by the organisation.
Other winners of this year’s award are from China, Korea, Nepal and the Philippines and, according to RMAF president Carmencita T. Abella, “are truly moving Asia forward through their remarkable and selfless service to their respective societies.”
“Working in different countries on diverse issues like poverty, prejudice, politics and the planet’s future, these seven individuals nevertheless share an uncommon faith in the tremendous potential of people and social institutions. They also share an indomitable will and persistence to tap into this potential and create greater, and lasting, good. Mobilising many others to join their efforts, their accomplishments bring us reassuring news of progress, justice, generosity, reform and hope,” Abella said.
She added: “In a world grown increasingly fragmented and cynical, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation is uniquely privileged to be the bearer of such inspiring news from Asia.”