Indian Philanthropists, Philippine NGO Are Honored in Manila

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 1:51 am (UTC-5)
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Two Indian philanthropists and a Philippine non-profit development organization were presented with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards in Manila Wednesday.

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 for his efforts to provide affordable solar power to more than 1 million poor and rural Indians. Hande said his strategy is to treat the poor not as consumers but as partners.

Nileema Mishra has established a center that provides small loans to farmers, plus self-help projects for small villages. At the ceremony, she stressed the connection between self-sufficiency and social reform.

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 each received a medallion and a cash prize.