Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nobel peace prize

SreeNair | 11:01 AM |

The Nobel Peace Prize for the current year has evoked mixed reactions.Brussels was overjoyed. "The EU is the biggest peacemaking institution ever created in human history," said Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European council, who chairs European Union summits. The award was "the strongest possible recognition of the deep political motives behind our union", he said.

The prize, which is worth €921,000 (£743,000) will do little to help plug the EU's debt and banking crisis which has so far cost over €6 trillion. An interesting comparison from the internet: "If shared equally amongst the EU's 500 million citizens, it would pay a peace dividend of just €0.002, or less than two thousandths of a British penny."

The Nobel peace prizes have always been controversial and the objects of wild imaginations.While Science related awards often entail  no dissents as the yardsticks to study the contributions of scientists are quiet transparent and tangible where as the critarian in spheres like peace it could be cumbersome and could always pronounce a tinch of subjectivity which could spell trouble.

It is not rare that the Nobel peace prizes to have been received by an organization.Organizations like Red Cross,UNICEF and Amnesty were the recipients over  the years .But it is the first time a conglomeration of states getting the coveted prize.

The EU began decades ago in the 50's under certain treaties as a small organization known as the “Common Market,”to promote economic cooperation breaking down trade barriers among warring European states . Over time the organization expanded to a conglomeration of 27 states with 17 of them sharing the same currency. The union was conceived as a means to bring peace to a continent trampled by centuries of umpteen internecine wars. Over the last 5decades – as the Nobel Committee put it – Europe has been transformed from a continent of war to a continent of peace.

Was the peace in the area the handiwork of EU? Is the European Union, this year's recipient, a more worthy champion of peace? Opinion is divided and the debate is on.

After 1945 Germany was profoundly tamed and was an advocate of peace in the region. The EU was the tool of peace in the member countries . Jos̩ Manuel Barroso, head of the European commission said "At its origins, the European Union brought together nations emerging from the ruins of devastating world wars Рwhich originated on this continent Рand united them in a project for peace." He added that the EU had reunited a continent "split by the cold war" around common values. The monetary Union was pivotal in promoting democracy and able governance across the continent. Spain, Portugal and Greece joined the EU after decades of fascist dictatorships.The Eastern Europe saw the EU as a harbinger of stability after years of Soviet occupation and Communist dictatorship. The EU has defended democratic institutions against authoritarian governments in Hungary and Romania. EU's single market, the 20th anniversary being officially celebrated is a remarkable political achievement, discarding protectionist tariffs that have paved the way for a huge expansion in trade. According to European Commission estimates,by 2006, the single market had boosted GDP by 2.2% and helped create an extra 2.75 million jobs in the EU countries.

Of course, these achievements lack luster in the wake of euro zone collapses, bringing about economic chaos and political harakiri. Much of the continent is mired in a severe economic slowdown.Already, the crisis is taking its toll on the single market,crisis countries remain highly vulnerable to bank runs, debt downgrades, deepening recessions and political instability. EU is on the death bed. It is now 3 years since one of the worst economic crises slapped Europe but there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.The 'fiscally-broke' Greece faces a sixth year of economic recession and the far-Right movements is on the rise in Greece. Riots are mounting in Spain, demonstrations in Italy. The crisis is deep on the streets of Athens and Madrid and is reopening deep historical divisions. Solidarity is breaking down.While Northern European countries, relish in record low interest rates at the cost of supporting crisis countries, harsh austerity measures are thrust on the Southern European countries as the price for assistance .

In spite of all these, explains Thorbjorn Jagland, Committee Chairman  : “we saw that the prize could be important in giving a message to the European public of how important it is to secure what they have achieved on this continent.”

Many a Nobel laureates in peace are in oblivion and many live in our memory with the glean and aura of thousand Suns. It was the fear of antagonizing the British who were in combat with Nazi-Germany from choosing the all time great apostle of truth and non-violence ,the Mahatma for the prize. Mahatma Ghandhi who fought the British colonialism and took 50 crore Indians to the horizon of freedom through his Ahimsa ,though nominated for 5 times ,was not rewarded. Leo Tolstoy who had deeply inspired the Mahatma was also not conferred with the prize for literature.

Between 1901 and 2011,about 99 individuals and 23 organizations were awarded with the prize with out any appreciable controversy though some of the selections were brazenly outrageous. In 2009 freshly-elected U.S. President Barack Obama was awarded the peace prize. As was widely believed ,he won the prize, not for being Nobel's "champion of peace" for he had no qualities or the character to be a champion of peace.He got the prize because the committee was thrilled he was not George W. Bush.

Any Prize will become worth its salt only when it is justified. By conferring to the right person it is the award which gets honored.



 

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