Winners of Asia’s Version of Nobel Prize Revealed

Posted July 28th, 2011 at 7:10 am (UTC-5)
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Two Indian philanthropists and a Philippine non-profit development organization are among the winners of the Philippines prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

The annual awards, named after a popular Philippine president who was killed in a plane crash in 1957, are widely seen as Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prizes.

Harish Hande, a U.S. trained engineer and entrepreneur, was cited by the foundation that administers the awards for his passionate and pragmatic efforts” to provide affordable solar power to over one million poor and rural Indians.

Nileema Mishra has established a center that provides small loans to farmers, plus self-help projects for small villages.

The Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, based in the central Philippine province of Negros Occidental, was also cited for its work in combating rural poverty. The organization has introduced an environmentally-friendly pumping system that provides villages easy access to clean water.

Other winners of the 2011 Ramon Magsaysay Awards include Cambodian Koul Panha, the founder of a group that advocates for free and fair elections in his country's nascent democracy; Indonesian entrepreneur Tri Mumpuni, who has built community-run hydropower plants in rural communities; and her compatriot Hasanain Juaini, who has established an Islamic boarding school for girls.

The winners will receive a medallion and cash prize at an awards ceremony in the Philippines on August 31.