The Prestigious Magsaysay award was won by an Indian who served the society with his community initiatives. Kulandei Francis, 65, whose Integrated Village Development Project (IVDP) in Krishnagiri had empowered hundreds of women to form micro enterprises. This not only released them from the clutches of poverty but also developed security amidst them with the feeling of togetherness. This initiative of Francis earned him the award for the year. Among the six winners this year the others were, Chen Shu-Chu from Taiwan, Romulo Davide from the Philippines, Syeda Rizwana Hasan from Bangladesh, Yang Saing Koma from Cambodia and Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto from Indonesia.
Mr Francis had been appreciated for "his visionary zeal, his profound faith in community energies, and his sustained programmes in pursuing the holistic economic empowerment of thousands of women and their families in rural India," said a statement from the Magsaysay Foundation.
Aided by his wife and daughter, Mr Francis has taken the initiative as a full time occupation since 1979. Over the years IVDP had helped to establish self-help groups for women that supported poverty-stricken women engage in group activities and start micro enterprises, create savings accounts, and secure reliable loans. IVDP supports nearly 8,000 self-help groups across the three districts of Krishnagiri, Dharmpuri and Vellore. These women have outgrown their status irrespective of their educations and have stood as a pillar of support to their families. (With inputs from internet-AW AarKay)