An Indian Communist Just Declined the Prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is considered Asia's Nobel Prize.

An Indian politician, K. K. Shailaja, was nominated for her outstanding work on India's COVID-19 response. India was one of the hardest-hit countries during the height of the pandemic, with casualties lying in the streets waiting for treatment. At one point, the streets in the densest cities could be seen with dead bodies waiting to be cremated. On May 1, 2021, India tallied a record 400,000 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day caseload anywhere in the world. Shailaja was also instrumental in India's curbing of the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. 


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Unfortunately, Shailaja declined her nomination to the Ramon Magsaysay Award. 

“When examined, it has been found that such awards were never received by politicians,” Shailaja was quoted by The Statesman. “The award was declined after discussing with the CPI-M Central Committee,” she added. 

But according to Firstpost, it was the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) that vetoed her selection for the international award. 

'Ramon Magsaysay... has the history of brutal oppression of the communists in the Philippines'

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said Shailaja should not accept the award because former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay had a history of brutal oppression of Communists in the Philippines.

…this award is in the name of Ramon Magsaysay who has a history of brutal oppression of the communists in the Philippines. So, for all these factors together, she politely refused it saying that she will be the first politician to get it,” Yechury said.


Yechury also implied that it is inappropriate to give the award to Shailaja because “this is a collective effort of the LDF government and the Health Department in Kerala. So, this is not any individual effort,” Yechury said.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is the most prestigious recognition bestowed upon Asians since it was established in 1957 by trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Philippine government. Considered Asia's Nobel Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award honors Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay's integrity in governance and perpetuates idealism in a democratic society. In the Philippines, some of the most notable recipients include former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, and founder of accounting firm SGV&Co., Washington SyCip

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor-at-Large
Mario Alvaro Limos is features editor-at-large at Esquire Philippines, and heads the Lifestyle and Esports content of as its section editor. Email him at [email protected] and [email protected]
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