Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nobel peace prize

I sauntered to the sofa sometime back when the news flashed of Barrack Obama winning the Nobel peace prize. I was confused, so decided to blog it out. Over the years I have followed the Nobel prize announcements and it was good to see more Indians getting recognition in this forum. Mother Teresa, Amartya Sen, C.V.Raman and others could make it to the hallowed list although it's far more difficult for an Indian or an Asian to prove his candidature for the Nobel standings than say an American or the British. The classic irony is that while Barrack Obama's promised intention of reducing the nuclear war heads from thousands to hundreds is considered good enough to win him the prize (with no action taken as of now to reduce the stockpile), a Gandhi taking a non-violent route and shaking up the entire British empire isn't. It's always easy for an American or European to get enough publicity to attract the Nobel committee while for an Asian or Indian it's twice as difficult. Amartya Sen, Mohammed Yunus and others have almost dedicated their whole life in pursuit of the respective fields only upon which has the committee woken up and taken note of.

Obama certainly deserves recognition for his efforts only nine months into office and for his thinking of disarming nuclear powers in return for a wider global efforts to prevent proliferation. However, there are a large cross section of Americans who do not subscribe to his view and believe that weapons belong to the country and not the president making his task that much difficult.

It's a huge global and diplomatic effort Obama has to lead if he intends to achieve in reality something for which the has already been lauded with the Nobel prize. It's by no means an easy task of cutting down stock piles of fissile material which have accumulated for decades. Nobody would give up so easily when most countries are still stockpiling them. Efforts of non-proliferation has proved futile with rogue states like north Korea making tall claims and others like us calling it discriminatory. The world has yet to agree on a single treaty.... NPT which is the most widely recognized and which still has large loopholes. The world is still about nuclear haves and have nots with both taking opposing postures.

I personally do not see an immediate change in the nuclear posture of any state including the US. Stockpiles will be kept as per every country's strategic needs. Some rogue nations will still smuggle in technology and material needed to produce them and will mock the world with one or two arsenals of theirs and make false threats. Some others will talk of reduction in stockpiles without doing the same, claiming that security threats exist and nuclear deterrence is a sovereign right.

Coming back to the topic of Obama, I feel he has been given the prize very early in the hope of promised action rather than on the ground reality which has always been the case. It's like rewarding a child for studying very hard a day before the exams and not waiting for the result. Yeah, I know the Nobel committee has in the past made quite glaring mistakes..... the most famous ones being of omitting Gandhi and the other
of Rigoberta Menchu who later admitting to fabrications in her biography.

If one has to keep up the credibility and standing of the prize as the most sought after in the world, it should look at the person's lifetime proven body of work in that field and not of promised action and hope. Peace prize winners
mainly international diplomats like Jimmy Carter, Gorbachev, Shimon Peres, Mandela and Kofi Annan have had a huge volume of work and proven results before they walked up the podium. This prize should not be about hope. It is about recognizing efforts which have brought peace and harmony among different people.

I only hope that Obama delivers all that for which he has already been rewarded and keep up the credibility of the Nobel prize.