Amidst a recent conflagration at the Line of Control (LOC) between India & Pakistan, Kailash Satyarthi (India) & Malala Yusufzai (Pakistan) were declared the joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014.Coincidence?Agenda Based? There’s enough intrigue associated with the Nobel Prize & surprisingly & there’s enough to make us smile too!
In 2012, Malala was shot in the head for championing the cause of education for girls & for defying the Taliban in Pakistan’s restive Swat region. She miraculously recovered in a hospital in Birmingham. Embodying strength & belief she went back to school & once again fearlessly stood up for her espoused cause.She has since addressed the UN, met Barak Obama & gained access to those who can make a difference. The Peace Prize was awarded to her in recognition of her work & the indomitable spirit of the 17 year old.
An erstwhile electrical engineer, Kailash Satyarthi was chosen for the award for his work in securing child rights & fight against child labour. He has rehabilitated thousands through his NGO,Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) & has received numerous awards from various countries. Interestingly,for the Peace Prize he was nominated by the European Parliament & is yet to receive any official recognition for his work by the Government of India.Instead it has been reported that he is a “persona non grata” for some sections of the Indian officialdom- as his stance supposedly hurts Indian industry.Narendra Modi has felicitated him after the announcement of the Peace Prize.
Controversially,incidents relating to children being tutored to falsely speak about their alleged bondage have been cited to disprove the Mr Satyarthi’s credentials as a genuine choice for the Peace Prize & the the Nobel Committee has been accused of bias & favouring NGOs affiliated to western countries.
Even the Nobel Committee’s statement that “It is an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” was criticised for hyphenating two unrelated issues & painting it in a religious hue. This was seen as “Christian Missionary Mischief” by Madhu Kishwar (as reported in the Global Post).
The timing of the announcement itself was interesting as it coincided with heightened confrontations between India & Pakistan.
Even earlier,the Nobel Peace Prize has occasionally raked up controversies. Henry Kissinger’s selection for his role in bringing an end to the Vietnam conflict was roundly criticised & his credentials as a war monger forced some Noble Committee members to resign.Then in 1994 Yasser Arafat shared the honours along with Israel’s Shimon Peres & Yitzhak Rabin & it was denounced globally for his terrorist credentials.
Mahatma Gandhi was nominated thrice for the Peace Prize but never received it. Quoting Wikipedia “Gandhi could do without the Nobel Peace prize. Whether Nobel committee can do without Gandhi is the question?”. And this cannot be undone as posthumous nominations are not made.
Another controversial rule stipulate that a Nobel Prize can only be shared by three individuals; sometimes only three in a team have been chosen thus raising heckles all around.
I need a comic relief now.
Did you know there are “Ig Nobel” awards as well to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”(Improbable Research).Some of the top winners are covered here on.All of these have later proven to have significant scientific utility beyond the obvious.
2000- The British Royal Navy “for ordering its sailors to stop using live cannon shells, and to instead just shout “Bang!” (After the government drastically cut military budgets.)
2003- W. Moeliker’s 2003 inquiry into the existence of homosexual necrophiliac ducks.
2007- USAF researchers at Wright Laboratory in Dayton, were working on : the “gay bomb.” ! To compel enemy soldiers to make mad, passionate love to each other instead of fighting a battle .(USAF reps did not attend the award ceremony & mercifully did not bomb the venue with the deadly aphrodisiac!!!).
2008 – study determining that lap dancers earn higher tips while ovulation.
2009-for inventing “a brassiere that is converted into a pair of protective face masks”!
Coming to the Amul Ad strip.It depicts the two joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, seated side by side with the Amul girl holding the medals.The caricatures are seen in the attire associated with Mr Satyarthi & Ms Malala.The rostrum, the arch way & the “peace” dove with the olive branch rounds up the ad in a subtle manner.
The Tag Line..Satyartea aur Maskala …is a take on the names of the two winners & otherwise alluding to having a toast with Amul butter as a tea time snack.
The Punch Line…Noble Piece Prize..is a spin on the award conferred on Mr Satyarthi & Ms Malala as well as endorsing the Amul butter as the claimant for the noblest piece amongst all butter brands.
Malala’s struggles have been celebrated previously in an Amul ad in October 2013 while also marking the occasion of the release of her autobiography “I am Malala”.
The Nobel Prize signifies the highest honour that can be bestowed on an individual in the designated fields.Since there are so many claimants for the honours, the Nobel Committee does have an onerous task in remaining totally objective.And its creditable that it has remained above board mostly.To say that the Nobel is spiked with vested interest is to denigrate the legacy of the extraordinary men already feted by its awards.Also it is undeniable that at times the Peace Prize has been awarded or not awarded out of overbearing political interests.
The bottom line is that the legacy of these awards is ever enduring & most importantly it brings the spotlight on issues which merit attention & spurs others to follow & make efforts to make this a better & more knowledgeable place for us all.For us Indians however ,its a matter of pride that beginning with Rabindra Nath Tagore , eight other Indians (including Mother Teresa) have been honoured by the Nobel Committee & cover all categories of the Nobel!
In the end-I wonder if the following will find a place in the list of “Ig Noble” awards
–Effect of knuckle cracking on the mental balance of Pervez Musharraf (for his recent ballyhoo on India-Pakistan dynamics).