Note: This article was written back in 2011 owing to some social media campaigns demanding for Nobel Prize for Irom Sharmila. While I don’t support the demand personally, I also try to describe why the Nobel Peace prize, according to me is nothing to boast of. The opinions expressed here are personal.
Off late, I have witnessed a growing hysteria in India; especially among the North-Easterners voicing that Irom Sharmila should win the Nobel Peace Prize. Campaigns, emails and Facebook pages are created. Every day, I receive requests for signing the campaigns or liking the pages. I wonder what good it would do if she gets the Nobel Prize. Would the Indian government suddenly lift the Armed Forces Special power Act from Manipur?
Little do they realize that the Nobel Prize is no longer noble and has lost its value and respect. Out of all the Nobel prizes given away, the peace prize stands the most disputed. Facets of the Cold War can still be seen in distribution of the prize. Since ages, the prize has been awarded to the so called progressive people who have not only supported the western block during the cold war but also have been the torch bearers of Neo-Liberalism. It has been proved time and again that the awards are all politically motivated.
Barack Obama won it at a time, when the whole world was going through ‘Obamania’ phenomenon. He merely was a brilliant orator, who talked of ‘HOPE’. But ironically by the time he received the prize, he had ordered re-enforcement of 30,000 more military personnel in Afghanistan terminating Hopes of Millions.
Strange is the term Peace, and strange is the way the Nobel committee defines it. The Nobel Peace Prize 2006 was awarded jointly to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below”. Mohammad Yunus is no more than a champion of Microfinance who showed to the world that the biggest markets are in the rural countrysides. He should rather have won it for economics rather than peace. At least it would not have confused the world thinking ‘How does micro-credit bring in peace?’ He is a Banker, often also termed as ‘Banker to the poor’ who of course never forgets to charge his interests (a sky rocketing 20%) and regular EMI which have to paid every week, pushing the poor into a debt trap. Incidentally, he no longer uses the rhetoric of ‘sending poverty into the museum’, which he use to a few years ago.
Al gore, another former US vice president won it for letting the world know about a phenomenon called ‘Global Warming’. He shouted from the rooftops to create awareness about this phenomenon, which today have become a means of entering the markets of developing nations with the disguise of providing ‘Climate Repatriation’ and Climate Assistance. Today the World Bank manages the so called Climate funds, originally created to ‘eradicate’ the ill-effects of climate change.
Henry Kissinger won it for paving the way for signing of Vietnam Accords. But it later emerged that he was also responsible for secret bombings in Cambodia. More can be said about Wangari Maathai (2004) who emerged with a theory that HIV was the invention of the Whites, or Albert scheweitzer who spend his life serving the blacks, the ‘White Man’s burden’. Out of the 790 prizes awarded, perhaps very few actually deserved the prize and were in line with what it stands for;-“to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”
A recent addition to the controversy has been the awarding of Liu Xiaobo, with china writing letters to Norway and other countries warning of consequences. It also cements the fact that the colours of cold war still play a major role in the awarding of the prize. The Imphal Free press truly suggests that, if Sharmila was a Chinese citizen and if her decade long hunger strike against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA-1958, was directed against the Chinese government and not India, she probably would have got the Nobel Peace Prize already
The members of the group demanding for Nobel peace prize for Irom Sharmila consist of ‘Patriotic North-easterners’ who prefer to blindly support the cause, as questioning it would only mean they being labeled as non-patriotic to the cause of North-East. (My apprehension has not gone down well with many of my friends). It also consists of ‘pretense Non-northeasterners’ who would like to believe that they are with the cause of the Removal of the AFSPA from Manipur but are also the first ones to stop their friends and families from visiting the ‘disputed lands of North-east’.
The Facebook community dedicated to the cause starts off with a line ‘Her eyes still sparkle’. I completely agree. But her eyes sparkle not for some tokenistic prize called Nobel Peace Prize, but for a society free from the draconian act called Arm Forces Special Powers Act-an act which gives license to the Indian army to violate all the possible human rights in the name of maintaining order. And the Indian government has continued to justify this draconian act since 1958. Her eyes sparkle for a Manipur where daughters and mothers can walk around without the fear of being raped, where sons and fathers can walk with heads held high. In the Hope of that freedom, her eyes sparkle……!!!
(N.B:- The views and opinions mentioned here are completely personal to the author. Criticisms are welcome)