Why the Ramon Magsasay Award was conferred on the Dalai Lama in 1959


Why the Ramon Magsasay Award was conferred on the Dalai Lama in 1959

Bhuchung K. Tsering

September 4, 2012

Last week, the Ramon Magsasay Awards were announced in the Phillipines. Among the winners is a philanthropic Taiwanese vegetable vendor, Chen Shu-chu , who reportedly donated her prize money to a hospital in Taipei. Good for her!
Way back in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, which seems to have been accepted by Kasur Gyalo Thondup on his behalf.  I am reprinting below the citation that the Award committee made. Interesting, huh?

The 1959 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership

CITATION for The Dalai Lama

Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies

Manila, Philippines

The Board of Trustees welcomes Gyalo Thondup, the brother of the DALAI LAMA whom His Holiness has deputed to receive this Award on his behalf.

With his proclamation at the age of five as the Fourteenth Incarnation of the Patron God of Tibet, the DALAI LAMA was destined to become the spiritual and temporal leader of his people. Since then, his life has been singularly devoted to study and training for that responsibility.

The society of his land was feudal, dominated by conservative monastic orders and hereditary nobles. Sometimes known as the Forbidden Kingdom, it firmly stayed aloof on its “roof of the world” and sought to remain utterly free from foreign influence.

Despite this restrictive tradition, the DALAI LAMA showed a keen curiosity about the outside world. It was his hope to introduce better methods of farming and irrigation, to build systems of education and public health and bring other benefits of modern science to his people. He also desired radical changes in land tenure, but said such reforms “must conform with the dignity, needs and peculiar conditions of my own people.”

Buddhism, one of the world’s great religions, has been at the heart of the Tibetan way of life. The monasteries were the conservers of learning and fully 100,000 Tibetans were monks. Now this isolated land’s Reformed Lamaism and the distinctive social system it has infused are threatened with destruction. The Tibetan people have shown their protest by a general uprising.

Striving to retain his people’s right to live and worship in their own way, the DALAI LAMA has brought his appeal to men of conscience everywhere. Like the late Ramon Magsaysay, he chose to stand where others have faltered in the protection of fundamental human rights.

In electing His Holiness, the DALAI LAMA to receive the 1959 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes his leadership of the Tibetan community’s gallant struggle in defense of the sacred religion that is the inspiration of their life and culture.


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