The Peace Nobel: A Decadence of Nobility?

Consistency is not an attribute that can be strictly associated with all human beings, however emancipated those human beings may be. Whatever is noble can never be guaranteed to get nobler or, at the least, to stay as noble. It is unfortunate that the nobility of the Nobel Prize for Peace has been the latest victim of this fickle trait. There is no doubting the fact that puzzling rationale has often been applied in the selection of awardees for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, the choice of Barack Obama for the 2009 award surpasses many a farcical selection.

Barack Obama was rightly and pleasantly surprised (‘astonished’ might be more apposite) to have found himself a Nobel awardee one fine morning. The arguments of the Nobel committee in favor of the strange decision have been based on the premise that Obama has taken ‘decisive’ steps in the direction of attaining world peace. A hardly cogent argument that, considering that Obama is yet an infant in the field of world politics, still in search of his first major achievement in any direction. There is no doubting the nobility of Obama’s intentions, which are amply reflected in his honest and eloquent oratory, but noble intentions alone do not a peaceful world make, and that is one fact that should not have escaped the members of the Nobel Prize committee. On the one hand, elaborate (although utterly unconvincing) reasons have been put forward over the years for excluding Mahatma Gandhi from the list of awardees while on the other, specious arguments (again thoroughly unconvincing) have been made to suffice to award the prize to a person whose role model is none other than the great Mahatma. It is almost akin to awarding a gold medal to a player even before he or she has even played the game. It is difficult to imagine, even by stretching one’s imagination to its wildest limits, that Obama’s gesture of halting the European Missile Defence programme and a few speeches elucidating the need for communal harmony are greater than Gandhiji’s four-decade long, non-violent struggle for freedom from the autocratic and racist rule of the British. One is inclined to think that the 2009 awardee has been arrived upon either in a moment of insanity or with a thought to ingratiate the powerful head of a powerful state.

For long, the Nobel Prize has been considered the ultimate award for supreme human intellectual achievement. The award has attained its stature not because of its name or its value but because of its history of fairness and impartiality. The Nobel committees have to keep in mind the huge responsibility of preserving the nobility and stature of the award in making their decisions. In awarding a Nobel to a person just on the basis of his stature or popularity without any regard to his actual accomplishments will irreparably undermine the grandeur of the award. Flippant decisions on the part of a few frivolous minds were certainly not the purport that the great founder of this great award had in mind.

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