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‘Alternative Nobels’ go to activists, journalist

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Amy GoodmanMonika HauserAsha Hagi Krishnammal
Amy GoodmanMonika HauserAsha Hagi Krishnammal

Sarvodaya couple from Tamil Nadu share the honours

STOCKHOLM: An activist-couple from Tamil Nadu, an American journalist, a Swiss-born doctor and an activist from Somalia were named on Wednesday as this year’s winners of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel.”

They will share a 2 million kronor (about Rs. 1.34 crore) cash award that will be split in four parts.

A Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull founded the awards in 1980 to recognise work he felt was being ignored by the Nobel Prizes.

American reporter Amy Goodman, founder and host of the syndicated radio and television programme Democracy Now!, was honoured for “truly independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by mainstream media,” the organisers said.

The programme works to provide listeners with independent reports from around the world to portray the effects of U.S. foreign policy, featuring artists, activists, academics and analysts.

Ms. Goodman, born in 1957, was also one of about 800 demonstrators and journalists arrested during protests at a Republican National Convention in the U.S. in mid-September.

The jury also honoured the founder of medica mondiale, gynaecologist Monika Hauser, for her work to help sexually abused women in world crisis zones.

The Swiss-born doctor holds an Italian passport and lives and works in Germany.

Organisers of the awards said Dr. Hauser and her colleagues have helped more than 70,000 traumatised women and girls in war and post-war areas.

Somali lawmaker Asha Hagi was honoured for her efforts to promote peace in her homeland by “continuing to lead at great personal risk the female participation in the peace and reconciliation process,” the organisers said.

Ms. Hagi is also chairwoman of Save Somali Women and Children, which helps women get involved in politics.

The last part of the prize was shared by Krishnammal and Sankaralingam Jagannathan for their efforts to promote social justice through their non-profit organisation Land for the Tillers’ Freedom (Lafti).

The group works to raise the social status of Dalits and by helping redistribute land to poor, landless families.

The Sarvodaya couple and Lafti receive the award “for two long lifetimes of work dedicated to realising in practice the Gandhian vision of social justice and sustainable human development.”

The organisers have referred to them as “India’s soul.”

The octogenarian Krishnnamal Jagannathan is a recipient of the Padma Shri and the Opus Prize 2008 given by Seattle University.

She started Lafti at Kuthur in Nagapattinam district in 1981.

Sankaralingam Jagannathan was an active participant of Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan Movement.

The awards will be presented in a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament on December 8, two days before the Nobel Prizes are handed out.

— AP

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