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The Nobility of Nobel

Anand Krishna

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) is, perhaps, the greatest inventor of all

time. The range of his inventions is simply mind-boggling, from the
deadly dynamite to the prestigious Nobel Prize. Though it is not the
dynamite, but the prestigious prize, which has carried his name to
this date.

In 1988, a French newspaper erroneously published an obituary of

Nobel citing him as the merchant of death. That was a turning
point in the life of the man, who had turned Bofors, formerly a steel
mill, into a major armament manufacturer, still in business to this

Nobel has been successful at disassociating himself from his past.

Today, we do not remember him for what he was, but for what he
stands for. The Nobel Prize conceived and initiated by him through a
will prepared before his death, has become a standard, a yardstick
of individual achievement for all peoples living on the planet.

Thank you, but no Sir..

Most of us were, therefore quite naturally surprised, when Le Duc
Tho (1911-1990), a Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat,
and politician declined the prize in 1973. He was awarded the Nobel
for Peace jointly with US Foreign Secretary Kissinger for their
efforts in negotiating peace for Vietnam. While Kissinger accepted
the prize, Duc Tho did not, stating that there was still no peace in
his country.

Earlier, in 1965 philosopher Jean Paul Sartre had declined the Nobel
for Literature, for he did not believe in the credibility of such prizes.

In the same year 1965, John Lennon and other Beatles received
their Member of British Empire honor/award. Four years later
however, Lennon returned his award, making a stand against the
British response towards Vietnam.

Much earlier, in the year 1919, the famous Indian poet and
educationist Rabindranath Tagore (first Asian to receive Nobel for
Literature) returned the title of Knighthood granted him by the
British Government, in protest of their atrocities towards his fellow
country men and women in the Indian dominion.

This year, the Noble for Peace goes to .

President Barack Obama of the United States of America. The
recipient - in his own words was surprised and deeply humbled by
the decision of the Nobel Committee. But naturally, as the former
Polish President Lech Walesa, a 1983 Nobel Peace Laureate
remarked, So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is
still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the recipient of 1984

Prize, was being very diplomatic in his comment, It is an award that
speaks to the promise of President Obamas message of hope.

So, the prize this year is not given for achievement, but for
promise, and message of hope. Indeed, Thorbjoern Jagland,
chairman of the Nobel Committee, was very clear about this. He
said that Obama had captured the worlds attention and given its
people hope for a better future. Emphasizing further, that the Prize
was being given for President Obamas extraordinary efforts to
strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation among the
people of the world.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg seconded him by stating

that the Nobel for Peace this year was being given to someone
who has the power to contribute to peace. Prize for potential, once
again achievement is not an issue here.

In the business language of export-import trade, this is a clean red

clause letter of credit. Your payment is guaranteed even before the
shipment, and you can withdraw it almost in full. Not bad, Mr.
President. And, two thumbs up for the Nobel Committee for their
remarkable improvement over the years. Who cares what would
have been Alfred Nobels say on this, if he were living. Rest in
peace, my dear old man, we are taking good care of the mandate
given us. You need not worry.

Technicalities do not matter

Therefore, let us not worry if President Obama was nominated for
the Prize only two weeks after his inauguration as the President of
the United States. For, that was the deadline for the nomination.

Two weeks are more than enough to work miracles, and to give
hopes and dreams. After all, we are living in the 21st fast moving

It does not matter if the war in Afghanistan is still on, and President
Obama has not been able to do anything about it, other than
continue with the strategy devised by President Bush. The situation
in Iraq and Pakistan has also not improved. Iran and its nuclear
bomb is no longer an issue, but a reality. The global economic crisis
is still taking its toll. And, the situation at home remains gloomy.
I presume that the Nobel Committee overlooked all such issues, for
the Prize this year was given to the message of hope, and not to its

Mr. President
Sometime ago, a man of God in my country, Romo Magnis Suseno,
was granted an award by a leading entrepreneur, which he declined
on the ground of moral principles. Follow the lead, Mr. President.
Follow the lead of Le Duc Tho. This way, Your Excellency, You would
not only add a more humane luster to your image, but also save the
Nobel Prize from losing its credibility.

Mr. President, I have been meditating on this for several hours now.
I have been studying the lives of the past recipients of the Prize.
Having received it, most of them did not make any further
contribution. It was kind of reaching the top experience for them.
They could go no further.

Whereas, Your Excellency, You have the potential to go further. Let

not this prize be a burden on You and keep You from growing and
evolving further, which perhaps is the intention of those who worked
behind the scene to ensure that You were granted the award.

Mr. President, i humbly request You meditate on this. God bless You,
Mr. President. Amen.

* Spiritual Activist, author of more than 130 books


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