NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar has been honoured with the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award — the highest honour given to Asian individuals and organisations and often referred to as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
Besides Ravish Kumar, Myanmar-based journalist Ko Swe Win, Angkhana Neelapaijit from Thailand, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab from Philippines and Kim Jong Ki from South Korea were also honoured with the prestigious prize.
“In electing Ravish Kumar to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy,” Kumar’s citation stated.
“As an anchor, Ravish is sober, incisive, and well-informed. He does not dominate his guests but affords them the chance to express themselves. He does not balk, however, at calling the highest officials to account or criticizing media and the state of public discourse in the country; for this reason, he has been harassed and threatened by rabid partisans of one kind or another.
“Through all the perils and aggravations, Ravish has remained consistent in his effort to preserve and widen the space for a critical, socially responsible media. Keeping faith with a journalism that puts service to the people at its center, Ravish sums up what he believes a journalist is in the most basic terms: “If you have become the voice of the people, you are a journalist,” it added.
— Ramon Magsaysay Award (@MagsaysayAward) August 2, 2019
Neutral journalism unlikely to survive as media dependent on corporate finances: Ravish
After the announcement of the award, Kumar participated in a live chat and while responding to a question alleged that a majority of the media is fuelling communalism and divide. He also said it is “very difficult” for real and neutral media to survive because media needs corporate finances and therefore, it is difficult for it to remain neutral. “There is more control over the media now. That is why this fight is being fought only by a few institutions and journalists. But this should not be the case, it should also be a fight of big institutions. So, it is not easy for neutral journalism will survive,” said Kumar
Ko Swe Win is a human rights defender and the chief editor of Myanmar Now news agency. He has written extensively on human rights cases that involve physical injury or death, unlawful detention or miscarriage of justice in Myanmar. In September 2016, he received the President’s Certificate of Honour from the Myanmar Ministry of Information for an investigative report he wrote exposing the abuse of two teenage maids by their employers in a Yangon tailor shop.
Wife of disappeared human rights lawyer, Amnesty International described Angkhana Neelapaijit as “a leading human rights defender in Southern Thailand”. She is currently the chairwoman of the Working Group for Justice and Peace, and continues to investigate allegations of police abuse in Southern Thailand.
Musical leader Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab’s contributions as a composer, arranger, music director, conductor, performer, and educator have been huge in Phillippines. He has served in the music faculty of the University of the Philippines, runs a music studio with his wife, and has conducted free workshops for thousands of students all across the country.
Kim Jong Ki is a South Korean agrarian movement leader, Christian and philosopher who pioneered wasteland cultivation, and strove to demonstrate through his work that life as a farmer can be fulfilling and productive. “In electing KIM YONG-KI to receive the 1966 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his example of Christian principles practically applied to improve agriculture and imbue rural life with new joy and dignity,” a citation by the institute read.
The Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the image of the late Filipino leader Ramon Magsaysay, and a cash prize. They will be conferred with the Magsaysay Award during a formal presentation ceremony at a later date.