"I have today become a known warrior"
Noting that the Magsaysay award has transformed him into a "known warrior" from an unknown one, Kulandei Francis today said he would like to be a role model for others to emulate his village development project.
The lone Indian among six award recipients, he described the honour as a "pleasant shock," saying he wants more people to emulate his Integrated Village Development Project in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu.
"I was pleasantly shocked. From an unknown warrior, I have today become a known warrior and am happy that this award comes in as recognition of 35 years of my work," 65-year-old Francis told PTI over phone.
Hailing from a modest background and equipped with a degree from Annamalai university, Francis said he would now like to be a role model and see more persons emulating him and his IVDP model.
"I should be a role model. I can stay here (Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Vellore)," he said.
Francis started IVDP in 1979 and has helped establish Self Help Groups that supported poverty-stricken women engage in group activities and start micro enterprises, create savings accounts and secure reliable loans.
At present there are over 8,000 SHGs across three districts of Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Vellore, supported by IVDP.
Both Francis's wife and daughter play prominent roles in running his organisation.
The Magsaysay Foundation had said yesterday that Francis was being recognised for "his visionary zeal, his profound faith in community energies, and his sustained programmes in pursuing the holistic economic empowerment of thousands of women and their families in rural India."