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Carnatic music exponent T.M. Krishna and social activist Bezwada Wilson are two Indians who have been conferred the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for this year, in 2016.
While Krishna got the award for “ensuring social inclusiveness in culture”, Wilson was selected for “asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity”, according to their citations.
“The healing power of music is an idea that often does not rise beyond being a platitude, a comfortable truism. But a young artist in India is showing that music can indeed be a deeply transformative force in personal lives and society itself.
“In electing Thodur Madabusi Krishna to receive the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to 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,” reads Krishna’s citation.
For Wilson, the jury noted: “The board of trustees recognizes his moral energy and prodigious skill in leading a grassroots movement to eradicate the degrading servitude of manual scavenging in India, reclaiming for the Dalits the human dignity that is their natural birthright.”
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Krishna, 40, was trained from the age of six in Carnatic music under masters of the form. Though he earned a degree in economics, he chose to be an artist and quickly rose to become a highly admired concert performer.
Recognizing that dismantling artistic hierarchy can be a way of changing India’s divisive society, Krishna devoted himself to democratizing the arts, it said.
According to his citation, Carnatic music though started centuries ago in temples and courts, subsequently “classicised” to become the almost exclusive cultural preserve of the Brahmin caste — performed, organised and enjoyed by the elite who have access to it.
“He (Krishna) questioned the politics of art; widened his knowledge about the arts of the Dalits 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,” it said.
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In 2004, Krishna founded Sumanasa Foundation that identified gifted rural youth who lacked the opportunities to develop their talent, and brought them to Chennai to train under well-known artists, and in 2008, started the Svanubhava movement to bring together students of diverse social backgrounds to interact with renowned artists and learn about different art forms.
During the period 2011-2013, Krishna brought his passion and artistry to war-ravaged northern Sri Lanka, the first Carnatic musician to tour that region in three decades, and launched two festivals to promote “culture retrieval and revival” in that country, the citation said.
Now a leading advocate in India of “music for all and music for a better quality of life,” he says: “Music and the arts are capable of bridging cultures and civilizations and liberating us from artificial divisions of caste and race,” states the citation.
Wilson, 50, has spent 32 years in his crusade, his citation read
Born in a Dalit family in Karnataka’s Kolar, he was the first in his family, which had been engaged in manual scavenging for generations, to go for higher education.
Treated as an outcast in school and acutely aware of his family’s lot, Wilson was filled with great anger; but he would later channel this anger to a crusade to eradicate manual scavenging, it said, adding he started by changing the mindset of his family and relatives – that being a Dalit is not their fate but a status imposed by society and that no human being should be made to do such demeaning work as scavenging.
In 1986, he sent a complaint about dry latrines to the authorities of their town, and when he was ignored sent the complaint to the Prime Minister and threatened legal action. As a result, the town’s dry latrines were converted and scavengers transferred to non-scavenging jobs.
Four other Magsaysay Award winners this year are Conchita Carpio-Morales from the Philippines, Dompet Dhuafa from Indonesia, Vientiane Rescue from Laos and Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.
Instituted in 1957, the award named after the late President Ramon Magsaysay of the Philippines is bestowed on persons as well as organisations for “greatness of spirit and transformative leadership” in Asia.
The trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation annually select the awardees, who have presented a certificate and a medallion with an embossed image of Magsaysay in profile. It carries $50,000 in award money.
The award is presented at formal ceremonies in Manila, on August 31, the birth anniversary of Magsaysay, the third President of the Philippines. (IANS)
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.