More about Mr Barack Obama and the Nobel Prize for Peace. The Indian media seems divided, but a majority seems sceptical. And much sadness has been expressed at the way the Nobel Committee has handled the situation. Thus, Hindustan Times (October 10) pulled up the Committee gently but unmistakably when it said that “there are occasions when the institution itself can bolster its own standing-or should we say, public image-by awarding someone whose clout, in terms of brand equality, is much greater than its own”. As for Mr Obama, the paper said: “We congratulate Mr Obama. After all, it is no fault of his that he’s been foisted with an award that he doesn’t deserve-at least, not yet”. And it added: “If nothing else, the Nobel Peace Prize can be seen for what it is: a brand-building exercise for the Nobel Committee. The Award also makes us understand, at last, even if indirectly, why Mahatma Gandhi, among a few others, did not get the precious honour”.
Interestingly, The Asian Age (October 10) was in favour of the US President getting the award. It said “Obama seems blessed with sagacity and intelligence. He has moved forward, slowly, in all crucial areas: ending the strife between the west and Islam, peace in West Asia…” The paper quoted the British writer GK Chesterton as saying that “the things common to all men are more important than things peculiar to any man”. Obama, the paper said, “more than any other leader in the world now, appears to work on the principle of this common humanity. For that he surely deserves the Nobel.” That is very encouraging comment.
Now all who are sagacious and intelligent can hope to win the Nobel Laureate. The Telegraph (October 11) came down hard on both Mr Obama and the Nobel Committee. It said: “What has Mr Obama done to deserve this singular honour? Under his presidency the US has not withdrawn a single soldier from anywhere in the world. There are no major peace initiatives in place…. In fact steps are being considered to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan… He is President of the world’s most powerful country… The Nobel Committee has confused promise with achievement….” The paper said that Mr Obama’s rhetoric is new and powerful, just as his vision of the future is moving and inspiring. However, it went on, he has been awarded a Nobel Prize for intentions, not for accomplishments. It added: “By accepting the Prize, Mr Obama has cut himself down to size: he is a hero with his feet mired in greed and self-promotion… The Nobel Committee had demeaned the Prize… By awarding the Peace Prize to one who has done nothing so far to deserve it, the members have the Nobel Peace Prize look utterly ludicrous. It will be very difficult to take it seriously after this”.
At the individual level, however, Mr Obama has won the praise and the applause of no less a distinguished Indian and former Justice of the Supreme Court, VR Krishna Iyer. Justice Iyer has gone overboard in his praise for Mr Obama. Writing in The Hindu (October 15) Mr Iyer said that as an Indian at the age of 95 who is committed to cosmic peace “I plead with Providence to give you the creative verve to be the divine engineer to save our morally declining planet controlled by whites into a society free from race, colour, caste, communalism and corruption so that all living creatures may feel a new biosphere where God is no myth but a live force that is materialist at the base and appareled in a moral structure”. Going into raptures, Mr Iyer went on: “I salute you, Barack Obama, for winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. By winning it, you have made the White House an eight world wonder of peace and a point of pilgrimage for humanity longing for a new century of lasting tranquility on earth… Mr Obama, you are no longer only an American but a world wonder with a new vision and promise of peace on earth. You are destined to convert great America into an inspiration for peace everywhere, even beyond the earth and the moon. A celestial power has whispered in the White House what Mahatma Gandhi would have deserved…. You be the Prince and make the United States a land where God trod…. There may be critics, but truth is God and you will win at last”.
Mr Iyer ended up by saying: “To be great is to be misunderstood. Your noble incarnation has a purpose-a passion for execution of the termination of terrorism not by war or arms but by farewell to blood and iron”. It is difficult to imagine any greater praise bestowed on Mr Obama than Justice Iyer’s fiery encomia. The US Embassy in Delhi must send President Obama a copy of The Hindu carrying this. It deserves to be framed! The Indian Express (October 10) was skeptical. It said that “after years of enduring a self-willed, arrogant America, Europe (or at least the five committee member elected by Norway’s Parliament) is clearly, desperately grateful for Obama’s preference for ‘dialogue and negotiation’”. For the rest of the world, said the paper, “Obama’s win is a stunning endorsement of …well, we don’t quite know what!” It wondered whether the Nobel was meant to encourage Obama’s efforts in the Middle East and added: “If he brokers a solution for a problem as gnarled and intractable as that, then he deserves the prize several times over. But there is no sign that anything has changed”.
The paper conceded that there is nothing to say that he won’t redeem his promise, but really, it asked, “after the Nobel Peace Prize, what personal milestone does Barack Obama have to live for any more? And how, in his remaining years in power, will he ever live it down”? Questions, questions, questions. Any average Indian, meanwhile may well ask why Obama has got his government to sanction $ 1.5 billion every year to Pakistan, for five continuous years as economic aid when the jolly well knows that that money well eventually get into the pockets of the Pakistan Army which will use that hard cash to buy more harmful arms and equipment aimed at India. One supposes that is how Obama will establish peace and prosperity in South Asia by supporting jehadi elements in the Pakistan Army to wage war against India. It is obvious that the Norwegian Parliament is blissfully unaware of Pakistani Army chicanery abetted by Washington. We live in a strange world where War means Peace and Peace Awards are given to those who aid and abet war-mongers. It is not Mr Obama who is an enigma, but the Nobel Committee which has awarded him the Prize.