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KK Shailaja rejects Ramon Magsaysay award; CPI-M says it’s anti-Communist

It has been learnt that the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation had zeroed in on former health minister Shailaja for the 64th Magsaysay award for her commitment and service towards ensuring an accessible public health system and effectively leading from the front to manage the Nipah and Covid-19 outbreaks in the state. However, she rejected the award.

KK Shailaja rejects Ramon Magsaysay award CPIM says its anti communist gcw
First Published Sep 4, 2022, 2:19 PM IST

Former health minister and senior CPM leader K K Sailaja has declined to accept the Magsaysay Award, dubbed Asia's Nobel Prize. According to the reports, Shailaja was chosen by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation to receive the 64th Magsaysay Award for her dedication and service in ensuring an accessible public health system and successfully taking the initiative to manage the Nipah and COVID-19 outbreaks in the state.

During her leadership, Kerala gained respect on a global scale for its successful response to the Nipah epidemic and the COVID pandemic. According to CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, KK Shailaja was considered for the award as an individual, but the COVID resistance is the result of the government's collective effort. The reports further suggest that the party believed that Shailaja was only carrying out the duties delegated to her as health minister. She need not receive the medal in her personal capacity because the state's efforts to combat the Nipah epidemic and the Covid pandemic were a part of a communal campaign.

Later, Shailaja wrote to the organisation to inform them that she was unable to receive the prize. The party voted against her getting the prize since it had the name of Magsaysay, who was renowned for putting down Communist guerillas, it has also been learned.

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Several national and international media outlets gave Shailaja substantial coverage, emphasising how the little state at the southernmost tip of India had successfully fought the epidemic using science. By the end of August of this year, the prize was scheduled to be made public. After she was selected, the foundation reportedly double-checked with a few well-known independents in the nation.

Additionally, she would have been the first time a politician in office received the honour. She would have also been a part of the illustrious group of leaders and social reformers that includes Jayaprakash Narayan, Mother Teresa, and Vinoba Bhave.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, which honors the memory of the late president of the Philippines, is a significant worldwide honour and is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize of Asia. The honour is granted to people and organisations for their unselfish contributions to society in a variety of sectors.

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