Nobel Test for India


nder pressure from China not to attend the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo on December 10, when Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo would be formerly and ceremonially handed over the award. It remains to be seen now how deep India’s commitment to the brand of “democracy” touted by the West is, and if this commitment actually can be treated as something which can be bargained on the altar of diplomacy. According to news reports, less than three days from D-Day, India is still undecided on the issue, and has not come out with a clear answer on whether it would be sending its official representative to the Nobel ceremony. Its dilemma is unenviable and unambiguous. Should it go ahead and displease a powerful neighbour with which it has been having a very chequered relationship, or should it leave ideals aside and take care of its immediate and tangible interests first. Indeed, as many China experts in India are pointing out, China would be obliged to do a return favour if India obliged its request.

Then again, it is discernable from the debates on the subject so far that a good section of the Indian intelligentsia feels that the touted “ideal” of “democracy” India would be standing by if it decides to go against its neighbour’s request, may after all represent not a universal value, but in many ways a sectarian interest of the West. The Nobel Peace Prize was conceived at its inception as a reward for iconic figures who promote peace between nations. It maybe this definition of peace is limited, but much water has flowed down the rivers of the world every since and especially during the Cold War, it had come to be reduced to a way of the West to make statements against Communism and Communist countries. A bit of the hangover from the Cold War colours the Nobel Peace Prize acquired is still visible today, and political dissidents in countries that the West sees as espousing political and economic ideologies opposed to its have been prime candidates for the prestigious awards. If this was not so, Irom Sharmila Chanu would have deserved the Nobel Peace Prize much more than even Xiaobo. Indeed, as we had suggested in an earlier editorial, 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. Again as we had suggested, perhaps the award of the Prize to Xiaobo would make Sharmila a stronger candidate for the next award, just so that the Nobel committee makes the further point that contrary allegations that the awarding Xiaobo was indeed on account of his own personal quality as peace promoter and not just to spite a country they do not like, or grudgingly envy as the case may be.

No doubt about it that the Nobel Peace Prize, and perhaps a shade lighter, the Literature Nobel Prize, are political in nature. Remember, Mahatama Gandhi, whose non-violent dissidence against a colonial power was unparalleled in human history, never received the Peace Prize, and the Nobel committee’s reasons for refusing Gandhi repeatedly is now known. Among the foremost of these is that Gandhi was considered too political in his outlook and action. Can any hypocrisy be more pronounced than this?

In a day or two, it will be known where India stands on the matter. Would it decide to look after its own interests, in keeping with the calls of real politick, the euphemism for which is diplomacy, or would it decide that Xiaobo truly represents a democratic force capable of bringing about better relations between nations? Understandably, the whole world would be watching India at this moment. As a rising world economic power and the largest democracy in the world, surely India refusing to attend the ceremony would hurt the institution of the Nobel Peace Prize considerably. On the other hand, should it decide to attend, its effort to patch up with China may take a severe blow. At moments like this, many would be wishing that the matter was not so uni-dimensional and in black and white. Many would hence be missing the now defunct Non Aligned Movement, NAM, the brainchild of Nehru, Nasser and Tito which provided a counter balance to the Cold War antagonism, and in the continuance of which India played a crucial role.


  1. I want to add one whip to your word ,Sharmila name has been shortlisted in 2007 for noble peace price but moto of her fasting is flexi so need to think wat is wrong with Sharmila Struggle with the help of one prestige NGO of North east . Thanks Reader

  2. You prompted me to check the facts. Mahatma Gandhi was nominated 5 times for the Nobel Peace prize and was shortlisted twice. In 1948 he had been nominated but the prize is never given posthumously, the Committee did not offer the prize in 1948 the year an Indian murdered the Indian Mahatma stating that there was no suitable living candidate. In 1989 when the Committee awarded the Prize to the Dalai Lama they stated that it was in part a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and in 1999 the Committee formally and publicly stated its regret that it had not given Mahatma Gandhi its peace prizing naming him as the century’s missing Laureate.

    The Norwegians didn’t give him the prize, but Indians murdered him and in the year they would have certainly given him the prize. The past is the past.

    As for Irom Sharmila, she does not care whether she gets any more prizes, what she wants is not in the gift of the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Academy for Arts and Science.

    She wants two things first not to be murdered by Indians. and you people need to improve your record with mahatmas. Second repeal AF(SP)A. Quick as you like given that you now want to lecture the world on how its shoddy treatment of Indian mahatmas.

    Liu Xiaobo is a man of integrity who has stood up for the rights granted within the Chinese Constitution for Chinese citizens. The charge of hypocrisy is hypocritical. But at least it forced to check the facts and I have learnt from it.

  3. Nobel peace prize has become very very political. It has been use as a tool more for politics rather than for peace in recent years. The name of the prize should be changed to Nobel prize for peaceful politics. It is hypocritical for the Nobel prize committee to award the peace prize to Liu Xiaobo and not to Mahatama Gandhi.

  4. It is worth mentioning no Indian Academy, Society, or NGO has ever given any award to a Norwegian. I was going to make fun of the fact that Indians don’t even know where Norway is. Then I realized I wasn’t that certain. It shares its most eastern longitude with Turkey, having lived in the Shadow of Communist Russia for most of the last century you mights suggest why the Academy has always supported dissidents against Communist oppression. They tend to go all out on the Literature prize to find the greatest writer in the most obscure language on earth to bestow the laureate. They take criticism for missing out English medium writers too, but then their language is Norwegian. The last Norwegian I spoke to was a very large voluptuous black woman, with black frizzy hair. She had to gall to suggest to me that I didn’t look African!

  5. Here’s a thought. India does the right thing because it is the right thing to do and does not dwell on the fruits of her actions. India has no control over the fruits of its actions only the acts themselves. I think I read that somewhere. Who knows if I may speculate. If India criticizes Chinese violations of decency and China did the same for India this region’s human rights records might actually improve. But as you say if they scratch China’s back, then China will let up on India and human rights in this region can continue to spiral into hel.

    As for Indian Intelligentsia, oh dear, by that you mean the rich Indians who don’t espouse democracy because that would mean their giving up some of their power and money to the vast majority of their own people who have none. No point in spending all that money on an American Ivy League education if you can’t slag off, hang about, the document called the Constitution of the Indian Republic. Who are these Indian Intellectual who believe the Constitution is too Western. And with what do they wish it replaced.

    But India still looks to the West for a pat on the back. Why else do you have so much soul searching about attending a peace prize offered by the Norwegian Academy. Norway is the Western equivalent of Bhutan, and their Academy, a Bhutanese Buddhist Temple Order. They call it moral authority.

    And can I clear up once and for all, because you still don’t seem to get it. Irom Sharmila is not on a political hunger strike to get more peace prizes than Gandhi-ji. She wants one thing, one thing alone. The repeal of AF(SP)A from Manipur. This is a draconian law inspired by a piece of War time British legislation against the people of a colony Britain owned. Obviously the indian Intelligentsia think its necessary for Indian troops to be free from the perils of prosecution for gang rape, murder or any of the other humiliations perpetrated by these foreign thugs with a tatty uniform and a gun. Are you seriously suggesting that these sort of rapes murder extortion are only a violation of human rights to some outdated western way of looking at the world. Are Manipuris not human also.

    One Western peace prize is one ten thousand from an Indian IIPM because then India has the moral floodlights of the West upon it. Unlike China India can be shamed, because Indians can be better than this.

    She has no vindictive muscle in her body. Repeal AF(SP)A and she will campaign not only for the betterment of Manipur but of India China and the world. Instead of whining why the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Academy does not recognize Indian Mahatmas, would it not be the Indian way to consider why does India imprison its Mahatmas. Why does India murder her prophets.


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