TM Krishna, Bezwada Wilson from India among those honoured with Magsaysay Award 2016

NEW DELHI: Two Indians, Thodur Madabusi (TM) Krishna and Bezwada Wilson , are among four individuals and two organisation cited for the prestigious 2016 Magsaysay Award.

Apart from the two Indians, four others have been selected for the award — Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Philippines, Dompet Dhuafa of Indonesia, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and ‘Vientiane Rescue’ of Laos.

Born in 1976, TM Krishna has been recognised for ensuring social inclusiveness in culture. “A young artist in India is showing that music can indeed be a deeply transformative force in personal lives and society itself,” reads the citation.

“He saw that his was a caste-dominated art that fostered an unjust, hierarchic order by effectively excluding the lower classes from sharing in a vital part of India’s cultural legacy. He questioned the politics of art; widened his knowledge about the arts of the dalits (“untouchables”) and non-Brahmin communities; and declared he would no longer sing in ticketed events at a famous, annual music festival in Chennai to protest the lack of inclusiveness. Recognising that dismantling artistic hierarchies can be a way of changing India’s divisive society, Krishna devoted himself to democratising the arts as an independent artist, writer, speaker, and activist,” it said.

Citation further said that the board of trustees recognised his forceful commitment as an artist and advocate of art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions, breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all.

Born to a Dalit family in Kolar Gold Fields township in Karnataka, Wilson, the national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), has been named as an awardee for ‘asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity.’

“He boldly moved his crusade to other states, working with dalit activists, recruiting volunteers for what would take shape as a people’s movement of manual scavengers and their children, Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA). With Bezwada Wilson as national convenor, SKA was launched in 1993 when he initiated the filing of a public interest litigation (PIL) case in India’s Supreme Court, naming all states, union territories, and the government departments of Railways, Defense, Judiciary, and Education as violators of the 1993 Prohibition Act banning dry latrines and the employment of manual scavengers,” reads the citation.

The board recognised Wilson’s moral energy and prodigious skill in leading a grassroots movement to eradicate the degrading servitude of manual scavenging in India, reclaiming the human dignity for Dalits, which is their natural birthright.