Nobel Peace Prize – Is it a farce?

Swedish academy’s announcement of Nobel Prize for Peace to Obama has surprised many across the world. The committee,in its wisdom, obviously felt that the onus will now be on Obama to use his powerful position and influence to build a new world order based on peace and prosperity for all. While it is difficult to refute these arguments,it is bound to give rise to a lot of controversy.
Only the day before this announcement,we all heard of the Nobel prize for chemistry being shared by an Indian(Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of University of Cambridge,UK) for his monumental work on ribosomes. The work will have a great impact on control of life at chemical level and aid in the development of new and more effective antibiotics.
The contrast between the two awards is quite striking,considering the fact that one got it after toiling hard for decades while the other was rewarded with the expectation of path breaking achievements in the future.
I was reflecting on the issue from a philosophical perspective. All philosophies believe that performance of actions has to precede fruits. In fact Hindu philosophy believes that one can achieve success only with focused efforts coupled with grace of God. I rummaged through our scriptures to see if this law is violated ever. In almost all cases one will see the operation of this principle. Bhageratha brought Ganga only by conducting penance for thousands of years. The royal sage Viswamitra had to carry on with his ‘Tapas’ for thousands of years to get elevated to the highest status among rishis – “Brahma rishi”. Devas and asuras(gods and demons)had to churn the ocean for thousands of years to get Amrit,the juice that guarantees deathlessness. There are innumerable examples like these from our scriptures which support the basic principle of success in life. With a lot of difficulty,though,I found a couple of instances where this is violated – one is the case of Arjuna and the other is that of Kuchela. Arjuna was blessed with a rare vision by Krishna to witness the so called “Viswaroopa”. As far as my knowledge goes he did not posseess any extraordinary spiritual merit to deserve such a huge gift. Like-wise Kuchela was merely a great boyhood friend of Krishna and that was enough reason for the latter to bestow unlimited material prosperity on him.

Interestingly,though,it is not difficult to find several such examples in the present day world,especially in India. Two such examples come to my mind as I write this piece. Sons and daughters with influential Sirnames like Nehru or Gandhi are automatically thrust with political power even before they show their capabilities. Another interesting example is the payment of so called “vulgar salaries”(to quote a recent statement of a senior union minister)to CEOs with the expectation of great performance in the future. Personally,I also feel such salaries are unjustified because a CEO’s success critically depends on the contributions of his key team members. And in the context of our present discussion,payment of huge salaries to CEOs is again a case of ‘fruits’ of actions preceding ‘actions’ themselves .


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