Prakash, Mandakini Amte among Magsaysay winners

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Manila, Jul 31 (UNI) Prakash Amte, son of the late Baba Amte, and his wife Mandakini, who run a hospital and school for the Madia Gond tribals in eastern Maharashtra, were among the seven individuals and one organisation across Asia named for the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards for 2008 today.

They were chosen for the award in the Community Leadership category for "enhancing the capacity of the Madia Gonds to adapt positively in today's India, through healing and teaching and other compassionate interventions." Prakash Amte grew up in Anandwan, an ashram and rehabilitation center for leprosy patients in Maharashtra founded by his father, a renowned Gandhian humanitarian and himself a recipient of the coveted award in 1985. Prakash was busy with post-graduate surgical studies in Nagpur when Baba Amte called him, in 1974, to take over a new project among the Madia Gonds.

''In a leap of faith, he and his wife Mandakini abandoned their urban practices and moved to remote Hemalkasa,'' the citation said.

The other winners include Ahmad Syafii Maarif, the head of Indonesia's powerful Muhammadiyah group, Thai prosthetic limb manufacturer Therdchai Jivacate and Sri Lankan social worker Ananda Galappatti.

Grace Padaca, governor of the Philippine province of Isabela, received the award for government service. Crippled by childhood polio, she defeated a powerful political dynasty in the 2004 elections and was re-elected last year.

Akio Ishii of Japan received the award for journalism, literature and creative communication arts, the foundation said. Ishii is the head of publishing house Akashi Shoten, which has about 2,800 books in print that place discrimination, human rights and other difficult subjects in Japan's public domain, the foundation said.

The award for public service was given to the Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, of the Philippines.

Other prominent Indian winners of the award include former Finance Minister C D Deshmukh (1959), the country's first woman police officer Kiran Bedi (1994), former Chief Election Commissioners T N Seshan (1996) and J M Lyngdoh (2003), vocalist M S Subbulakshmi (1974), Gandhian Manibhai Desai (1982), Gandhian Vinobha Bhave (1958), agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan (1971), social activist Ela Bhatt (1977), film-maker Satyajit Ray (1967), cartoonist R K Laxman (1984) and Mother Teresa (1962).

The citation honouring the Amtes said hidden amid the dazzling human mosaic of India are millions of tribal people. For centuries they have lived apart in remote highlands and forests. The Madia Gonds, for example, occupy a 150 square-kilometer swath of eastern Maharashtra, bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh States. In a thousand isolated villages, they survive by hunting and gathering and shifting cultivation. When Prakash and Mandakini Amte arrived in their midst 34 years ago, the region had no modern services.

Government officials considered it wild and served there only reluctantly. By contrast, the Amtes, medical doctors, came by choice.

The young couple settled... picking up from para one, line one of DF6, AWARD-MAGSAYSAY-LEAD AMTE TWO LAST MANILA.


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