TOKYO -- The man behind the creation of India's biometric national ID system, a Taiwanese virologist whose discoveries helped contain SARS, and a Pakistani nonprofit foundation that provides emergency services have been awarded this year's Nikkei Asia Prizes.
The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to Asia's development.
The winners of the 22nd Nikkei Asia Prizes are:
Nandan Nilekani, India, Former Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India -- Winner for economic and business innovation
Nilekani led the creation of Aadhaar, the world's largest biometric national ID system. More than 1.1 billion IDs have been issued. In addition to ensuring that aid reaches a greater number of people, the system has also helped to reduce welfare fraud.
Michael Ming-Chiao Lai, Taiwan, Distinguished Research Fellow, Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica -- Winner for science and technology
Lai rose to prominence through his studies of RNA viruses. The virologist's research played a key role in combating the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome that hit Asia and other parts of the world in 2003.
Edhi Foundation, Pakistan -- Winner for culture and community
Representative: Faisal Edhi, Managing Trustee
This nonprofit foundation is there to help when people need it most. Its social welfare services include around-the-clock emergency transportation, assistance during natural disasters and support for impoverished refugees. With a deep commitment to humanitarianism, it does not discriminate based on religion, class or race.
About the Nikkei Asia Prizes
The prizes were created in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei Inc.'s main Japanese-language newspaper, The Nikkei. They honor contributions to the region in three fields: economic and business innovation; science and technology; and culture and community.
Experts from across the Asia-Pacific region submit nominations. Candidates cannot nominate themselves, and Japanese individuals and organizations are not eligible.
Category-specific screening committees choose two candidates each. Then, the winners are selected by a final judging panel, made up of leading members of the preliminary committees.
Information on past winners is available at: http://www.nikkei-events.jp/asiaprizes/en/index.html