New Delhi: Reformative Indian journalist Palagummi Sainath and author of the 1997 best-seller book “Everybody Loves a Good Drought”, was among the seven people selected on 31 July for the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the award foundation said.
Born in Chennai in 1957, Sainath under a Times of India fellowship, investigated life in India’s 10 poorest districts, at a time when the country was swayed by the booming economy, the giddy heights of Sensex in stock markets, the IT revolution and all the glitz and glamour in the world of beauty queens.
The general trend of Indian journalism then was to religiously follow this boom visible in cities. But the plight of 250 million Indians living below poverty line in the country’s vast stretch of rural areas failed to get the minimum attention it deserved.
Sainath’s book and several articles that followed presented a picture of miseries in rural India that lay hidden beneath the massive strides by corporate India. He pointed out this huge gap between the haves and have-nots were triggered by India’s enduring structural inequalities. There was poverty, illiteracy and caste discrimination, which turned worse, thanks to the economic reforms favouring foreign investment and privatization.
The sweeping changes coupled with a corruption infested system had led small farmers and landless workers into evermore crippling debt-with devastating consequences, many a times leaving suicide as the only option to escape from this burgeoning burden.
Three Chinese citizens besides a South Korean, a Nepalese and a Filipino were also selected for the award honouring their significant contribution towards society.
Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is sometimes regarded as Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine President. The award is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same sense of selfless service that ruled the life of the late Filipino leader, who was killed in a plane crash.