Saturday, May 19, 2012

For God’s sake, let Alfred Nobel rest in peace

ALFRED Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer and later industrialist, invented firstly dynamite and a decade later more powerful but smokeless ballistite, which enabled him to earn fortunes through his global interests in explosives and acquire large holdings in the Baku oil fields in Russia.

Fortunes thus earned fomented whisperingly in the ears of the unmarried man as Alfred Nobel was to make a will for Nobel Prize before his death in 1896.

By dint of the will, five Nobel Prizes were established in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature and peace. The Royal Academy of Science, Stockholm, was to award Nobel in physics and chemistry, the Royal Caroline Medico Institute for Medicines, Stockholm, medicine, the Swedish Academy for Literature, Stockholm, literature, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Oslo, peace. In 1969 the Nobel Prize for economic science was added in memory of Alfred Nobel by the Bank of Sweden.

In pursuance of the will, the Nobel Foundation is the legal owner and joint administrator along with the awarders of six prizes. The will further specifies that awards are to be made annually ‘to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.’

Alfred Nobel, basically a pacifist, witnessed devastating effects due to the rampant use of his inventions in warfare. He was literally moved and shocked and felt the need to do something about peace. Peace activist Bertha von Suttner, Nobel’s acquaintance, did also influence him immensely for world peace. Having regard to the development of global peace, Nobel added peace prize through inclusion in his will, ‘The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have done to the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for holding and promotion of peace congresses.’

Proposals for all Nobel prizes need to be submitted by February 1 every year and the final decision after due process by the committees of awardees is to be finalised by November 15. The peace prize has, however, been singled out to include not only individuals but also institutions.

Until 2011 the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to 101 individuals inclusive of 15 women, and 20 institutions. However, no award could be given for various reasons for 19 years. Apart from war effects and promotion of Peace therefore, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded within the purview of the ‘Will’ for reasons, other than warfare issues, the following list (mentioned only a few) will suffice for justification and judiciousness in order to award the Nobel Peace Prize for:-

Founding Red Cross.

Founding Inter Parliamentary Union.

Formulating general principles of science of international law.

Providing leadership in Peace movement.

Promotion of arbitration.

Dovetailing Peace societies with various nations.

Helping creation of League of Nations.

Helping to cope with famine.

Efforts to involve church, not only in work for ecumenical unity but also for world peace.

Social reform work and leading the Women’s International League for Peace and freedom.

Aiding refugees.

Companion for others through friends services and to desire to help them.

Founding International Relief Organisation.

Struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Protection of human rights in the ICRC’s 100 years existence.

Campaign for civil rights without violence.

Contribution to the green revolution.

Founder of Missionaries of Charity.

Non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

Social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation to respect the rights of the indigenous peoples
Contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

Advancement of economic and social opportunities for the poor, especially women, through pioneering microcredit.

Disseminating greater knowledge about man-made climate change and how to tackle it.

Non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for their rights to full participation in peace-building work.

We have now arrived at the core issue of awarding of Nobel Peace Prize, 2006, to Prof Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, in consideration of advancement of economic and social opportunities for the poor, especially women through pioneering micro-credit.

Point to be noted here is that all other Nobel Prizes are awarded in retrospect often two or three decades after the awarded achievements, whereas the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded for more recent or immediate achievements.

Microcredit means small long term loan on easy terms for self-support of the poorest people, especially women, who have no means to provide security - a visionary concept of microcredit duly conceptualised by Prof Muhammad Yunus. More than 100 countries have now been trying to follow this concept. By 2006, the Grameen Bank had seven million borrowers with average loan amount of Tk 7000, the recovery rate being over 95 per cent. It is thus clear that of the above list shown as justification for consideration for Peace awards, microcredit stands out most. Nobel Peace Prize is a matter of high repute now-a-days globally, but a dismal picture has been hovering over the blue sky of Bangladesh. By now we have made the Nobel Peace award most un-peaceful, bitter and unwelcome, by uttering, bickering and jittering, that may be summed up as follows :-

Peace agreement with Chittagong Hill Tracts people should have the priority over all others to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, - so was claimed at the premises of the Supreme Court by a responsible officer of the govt. Perhaps, the core points of time frame, implementation and happiness enjoyed and so expressed by all concerned parties have been overlooked in such a claim. The Hill Tracts people have been raising hue and cry for package implementation. In factm there has been an aggravation in the matter as the govt has shown its inclination to changing the present nationality of ‘Bangladeshi’, conceptualized by Ziaur Rahman, to encompass all and sundry regardless of their mother tongue and local dialects, to ‘Bangalee’.

A minister’s simplified formulation of lobbying, attending parties, having cheese sandwich and white wine so on and so forth in various cosmopolitan capitals of the globe which would, in turn, enable some one to be entitled to Nobel Peace Prize has shown virtually fathomless depth of knowledge, in such a naive formulation. One may raise two, inter alia, valid questions:-

    (i) Why don’t you do the same for a peace award for Hill Tracts agreement?
    (ii) Are we not dwarfing the tall image of Nobel Laureates like, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, 

Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Albert Lutuli, Rigoberta Menchú, Wangari Muta, Leymah Gbowee and a host of other stalwarts?

(c) A technocrat minister has invited Prof Muhammad Yunus and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of BRAC to test their popularity by joining politics. The purposeful meaning of democracy is that you have to listen to the views of all and sundry whether they are in politics or not, for we know politicians shake the hands of the voters before vote and shake the bodies of the voters after the casting of votes. The minister’s invitation is tantamount to tuning Shivas’s songs while husking, the most irrelevant and unbecoming, though.

While the world is progressing we are falling apart with myopic vision that speaks of pulling down the ascender rather than ascend thyself.

It may also be pointed out here that Sir Fazle is the only Knighthood recipient since Bangladesh came into being, a great honour for Bangladesh as well. Sir Fazle, a UK-educated professional accountant who was earning handsomely in the late 1970’s, having been heavily shocked at the death of millions in 1970’s tidal bore in the coastal area of Bangladesh gave up his job and single-handedly formed Bangladesh Rural Advancement Centre, BRAC, as an NGO and over time turned it into the biggest NGO of the globe. Let us pull ourselves, and move heaven and hell to win another Nobel Peace Prize for Sir Fazle, a Magsaysay recipient, as such option seems to be bright and prospective.

Can we disprove presently the nature’s theorem as composed by Poet Swift’s line on poetry? :

‘So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus every poet, in his kind
Is bit by him that comes behind.’
-Well, May I Say – ‘May God Help us’.