Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel to Obama

What work has Barack Obama done in 8 months of his presidency for which Mother Teresa took 30 years and which Gandhi could not finish in his lifetime ? I guess he has not attacked another country in these 8 months. He has also delivered a speech addressing Muslim nations in Cairo, probably a first for any US president and has shown 'intentions' of building cordial relations with them. He has taken a start in developing peaceful relations with Iran. He has also decided to close down the ill famed prison at Guantanamo Bay though the inmates would not be freed and the cases, some of which are highly dubitable, would continue.

On their website the committee has said that "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future." There are some initiatives that he might have taken and for other few he might have shown intentions. But till now, nothing concrete has been delivered.

The committe has also said that "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population." To me, it looks that he has been honoured just for doing the right thing. Things which his predecessors failed to do. As the head of the most powerful nation of the world, he is expected to behave in the most responsible manner. Just because US under George Bush had destroyed 2 coutries doesn't mean that Obama should be applauded for not destroying another.

In any case, it is too early to honour him. Prizes like these are not meant to be bestowed just for showing the intentions. There are so many things which are yet to be done. He can probably start by giving a new headway to the Kyoto Protocol which has reached an impasse because of US' disinclination to ratify it. He can also start working up with the blue print for withdrawal of the US army from Iraq and Afghanistan though it does look highly improbably to me given the huge amount of oil reserves in Iraq and the strategic leverage that is offered by Afghanistan. In fact, it should be noted that the size of the troops in Afghanistan has increased after Obama has ascended the presidency.

Another aspect of the whole processes that this decision has exposed is the bias of the committee towards the developed nations. Though the committe has always denied this allegation (understandably). There have been several instances in the past when the prize was not awarded to a particular scientist but to others whose work have been related to his research. One name that instantly comes in my mind is that of Satyendra Nath Bose, the Indian physicist who along with Einstein gave the theory of Bose-Einstein condensate. It should also be noted that more than one Nobel prize has been given for the work related to Bose's work, the latest being 2001 Nobel Physics prize for advancng the Bose-Einstein condensate theory (quoting wikipedia here). This time also, the name of Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean prime minister was in circulation for the peace prize for fighiting the tyranny of Robert Mugabe but it instead went to Obama.

 What is more unfortunate is the fact that no other award of such repute has been established by any other institution or country and hence Nobel prize remains the only possible benchmark and a platform for achieving recognition. Even in India, we have Padme Shri, Padma Bhushan etc, but they have been distributed like freebies in the past. I would like to see greater prudence from the Indian government in distributing these awards so that they gain some significance (the way it has been done with Bharat Ratna and Gandhi Peace Prize). I don't know whether there are awards for rewarding the contribution to the science. But if there is not, then there should be one whose reputation is uncontestable.

I can also see one bright side to this. Obama would now, probably, have to live up to the expectations that have been thrusted on him after this award. I wonder if the same strategy could work on Osama as well.


Vatsheel said...

Very well written blog.Even Obama admits he is unworthy of this award and that the US leadership has been awarded. He should have been more forthcoming to admit that it is the might of the US which has been acknowledged.

Kush said...

@Vatsheel: Seriously, its so hard to satisfy you. You wont stop until Obama himself comes to you admitting and apologizing that he bribed the committee or something like that. If he had said it is the might of US which has been acknowledged, you would have said he is arrogant. This is what I hate about you and this is also what I love about myself :)

A Neophyte said...

@Vatsheel: Though it may look unsatisfactory, I still think that this is the most he could have done while maintaining the dignity of his post..

Jagannathan said...

nobel prize is awarded only if a person gets recommendation from atleast 3000 people. As we might mistake, the committee is not very small. It includes more than 3000 people from different countries. i`m wondering how 3000 people concurrently thought that obama was worthy of it! as we all know, US is very influential.... they might have BOUGHT it :-)... or may be he has done more than what we actually know....