Sonam Wangchuk wins Magsaysay Award

Sonam Wangchuk

The prestigious Ramon Magsaysay awards list is out, and listed among the 6 awardees, 2 Indians have been acknowledged for their contribution to society and the world at large – Sonam Wangchuk and Bharat Vatwani.

The Magsaysay award is referred to as Asia’s Nobel Prize and is a much revered and respected honour among recipients.

According to the official press release, India’s Sonam Wangchuk has been recognised for “his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote northern India, thus improving the life opportunities of Ladakhi youth, and his constructive engagement of all sectors in local society to harness science and culture creatively

Sharing his joy on social media Sonam Wangchuk shared – “Few days ago I received an unknown call from the Phillipines to tell me that they were going to confer on me the Ramon Magsaysay Award, for working to improve lives of minorities in the mountains. Apparently they had done a year-long research work on me already, including visits to Ladakh. And this morning they formally announced it in Manila!.
I honestly don’t feel I deserve it alone as an individual! It belongs to every student, every teacher, every leader and every dreamer in Ladakh.

So I congratulate and thank each and every Ladakhi alive … and even our ancestors who taught us… to care for nature and care for others before self. I was only humbly trying to apply these learnings in life.

In fact, it is an occasion to express gratitude to the whole nation and the world for understanding that minorities in the mountains face special challenges; they are not only ethnic and linguistic minorities but also environmental, educational and technological minorities, where normal readymade solutions and policies from the plains don’t even work.

Therefore I hope this award will give a boost to our work of engaging mountain youth in finding indigenous solutions to mountain peoples’ problems. I hope it will also help our efforts to set up the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh…. ( HIAL) an alternative university for the mountain development.”

Having won the much sought after Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2017, for his innovation the “Ice Stupas”, Wangchuk’s achievement is a matter of pride for all Indians and an inspiration to aspiring students, educators and innovators.

The other awardee Bharat Vatwani, is being recognized for “his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing India’s mentally-afflicted destitute, and his steadfast and magnanimous dedication to the work of restoring and affirming the human dignity of even the most ostracized in our midst.”

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Suhana Bhatia