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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
South Asians win regional awards
Arvind Kejriwal
Mr Kejriwal has led a campaign against graft
Two prominent South Asians have been awarded this year's prestigious Ramon Magsaysay awards in the Philippines.

Arvind Kejriwal, who heads an Indian NGO, has been given the award for his contribution to a landmark freedom of information law.

Leading Nepalese eye surgeon, Dr Sanduk Ruit, has been awarded for enabling the poor blind to get back their sight.

The awards have been given to over 200 individuals and institutions since they were first presented in 1958.

Arvind Kejriwal, who founded Indian NGO Parivartan (Change), was given the award for "activating the right to information movement at the grassroots".

The pioneering new law gives Indians the right to access information held by the government.

Mr Kejriwal, 38, has been also lauded for fighting corruption in the country.

Seven-year-old Parivartan has only 10 full time members and is credited with leading the campaign for the freedom of information law in the country.

Helping the poor

The nationwide law is aimed at increasing transparency in public life and helping curb corruption

Mr Kejriwal, a former tax officer, has also led an anti-graft campaign in the capital, Delhi. He has also campaigned against the privatisation of water supplies in the city.

"[He] reminds Indians that the boons of collective action, such as the honest delivery of services, have already been paid for through taxes," said the award citation for Mr Kejriwal.

Dr Sanduk Ruit
Dr Ruit's techniques have been followed all over the world
Nepalese eye surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit runs the well-known Kathmandu-based Tilganga Eye Centre, which carries out free operations for the poor.

The doctor has placed Nepal "at the forefront of developing safe, effective, and economical procedures for cataract surgery, enabling the needlessly blind in the even the poorest countries to see again", the award citation said.

Some half a million people in Nepal suffer from blindness and the majority of them are poor and live in the villages.

Dr Ruit's 12-year-old eye centre treats some 3000 patients a week and has performed more than 90,000 surgeries since its inception, according to a release issued by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.

The centre also runs the country's only successful eye bank and manufactures high-quality inexpensive lenses for needy patients.

Dr Ruit, 51, and his team runs mobile eye camps all over the world and hundreds of Asian surgeons have learnt from his techniques.

"Everyone deserves good vision," he is quoted by the Foundation as saying.

"There can be no children of a lesser god".

Indians win right to information
12 Oct 05 |  South Asia
Nepal's unique eye care centre
28 Oct 03 |  South Asia

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