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On Tuesday, Asia Society announced the recipients of its 2016 Asia Game Changer awards. Also Read - Asia Society Names Discover, BuzzFeed, And KPMG as Best Employers For Asian Pacific Americans in 2019
Currently in its third edition, the Game Changer Awards “identifies and honors true leaders, those who are making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world.” Also Read - Will cause third World War if I join politics: Indra Nooyi
Last year, Asia Society honored three Indians, actor Aasif Mandvi, designer Kiran Bir Sethi, and ICICI Bank chief executive Chanda Kochhar, with the Game Changer awards for making positive contributions to the future of Asia. This year, however, no Indian made it to the list.
This year’s awardees represent a wide spectrum of achievements. The honorees include a doctor who restored vision for thousands of patients, a young education rights activist bringing education to her fellow Syrian refugees, two musicians who are using art to heal their war- torn nations, a young tech entrepreneur and advocate for women in technology, a pioneer in social impact investment in Asia.
Tom Nagorski, Asia Society’s executive vice president, said the nominations are solicited from the Asia Society global network. “Our global network goes well beyond our global staff. We have a distinguished board of trustees, a global council of advisors and then we have a very strong Asian young leaders network called Asia 21.” The nominees are then voted by the senior staff and trustees ensuring a diverse list of the recipients. Nagorski stressed on the need for such awards to close the vital gap by identifying and honoring leaders from Asia.
“There seemed to be a gap in terms of these kinds of honors for people who have had a great impact in Asia. It’s not a completely barren field, there are Magsaysay Award and other honors like the McArthur prizes, the nobles even, but Asians and Asian-Americans are somewhat underrepresented,” he said.
This year, Asia Society will honor the internationally renowned architect I.M.Pei, who has given this century some of its most beautiful designs including the Grand Louvre in Paris. Pei will be awarded the first ever Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Six decades ago, John D. Rockefeller 3rd founded Asia Society s an institution that would build bridges between the U.S. and Asia,” said Asia Society President, Josette Sheeran, in a press statement. “This year’s Game Changers could not be more different from one another. They include a 99-year old architect and an 18-year old refugee, a Nepali doctor and an Australian robotics entrepreneur- but they continue Rockefeller’s legacy as bridge builders in their own right.”
Among this year’s honorees are Dr. Sanduk Ruit, an eye surgeon and co-founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project, from Nepal. He is known as “the doctor who saved 1,00,000 eyes.” In a recent The New York Times article, columnist Nicholas Kristof mentioned Dr. Ruit as the doctor who may have restored sight to more people than anyone in human history.
Another game changer from South East Asia is Durreen Shahnaz, founder of Impact Investment Exchange Asia. Shahnaz, the first Bangladeshi woman to work on Wall Street and to attend the Wharton School of Business, will be honored for her social impact initiative, the world’s first “social stock market” the IIX, or Impact Investment Exchange for Asia. IIX bridges the gap between finance and development, carving out a third space for global social and environmental solutions.
Other honorees include Muzoon Almellehan (Syria), who is dubbed the “Malala of Syria” for her campaign to keep girls in school; Ahmad Sarmast (Afghanistan/Australia), founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, who will be awarded for restoring music and empowering children in a war-ravaged nation, Karim Wasfi (Iraq), conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, for using music to heal in the aftermath of terror, Marita Cheng (Australia), awarded for her advocacy for women in technology.
The honorees will be presented with their awards at the Asia Game Changer Awards dinner and gala at the United Nations in October.