The color of leaves are changing from green to different hues of yellow, red, brown; air has become cooler and crisp; post summer harvest is rolling in; it definitely Feels, Looks like Autumn. And yes, it is also Nobel Season. Though it is Autumn, perhaps the best season, I say this with all the possible malice and contempt: Why doesn’t Nobel award itself the ‘#NobelPrize for Institutional Racism and Colonial Legacy’?
Growing up I saw Nobel as ‘acme of devotion, life long pursuit, endeavor in face of all odds, and burning desire to change the world for better’ and ‘paragon of true meritocracy’. But then growing up made me actually grow up.
I stumbled upon some names – Meghnad Saha (nominated for Nobel 8 times), Jagdish Chandra Bose (among ton of other stuff, radio communications decade before Marconi!) Satyendra Nath Bose (nominated 4 times), Homi Bhabha (nominated 5 times), EC Geroge Sudarshan (nominated 6 times and known for quantum optics and coherence), GN Ramachandran (bio-molecular structures and triple helical structure of collagen), Narinder Singh Kapany (transmission of light and fibre optic communication), Jayant V Narlikar (contributions to Astrophysics) and countless others. And yes, it is now widely accepted that Jagdish Bhagwati would go down in history as perhaps the most accomplished economist not to be conferred with Nobel. But what really got my goat was when I stumbled upon a few other names:
Upendra Nath Brahmachari discovered Urea Stibamine – an antimonial treatment of Kala-Azar, a disease that afflicts poorest of the poor in some of the most under-developed regions of India (where I come from) and there was a time when it would kill by the 1000s. Upendra Nath’s treatment provided hope and literally saved thousands of people from the certainty of death. Upendra Nath was nominated for Nobel in Physiology and Medicine, but of course didn’t receive it.
Baba Amte! Murlidhar Devidas Amte led efforts to rehabilitate and empower people suffering from Leprosy. He physically slept with Leprosy patients to show that Leprosy was curable and those who suffered from Leprosy deserved a respectful acceptance into the society. He believed in total self reliance including a self reliant village system and among others wearing clothes made from the local loom. He was vested with every known Indian and International award, but for Nobel. I can understand, the Nobel Foundation folks would have been scared of Leprosy, to actually visit one of Baba Amte’s Ashrams. And yes, before Climate Change became a fashion, Baba Amte worked for self sustaining micro-systems.
Chipko Movement members, led by Sunderlal Bahuguna among countless others, saved trees by putting themselves in harm’s way. Originating from the Garhwal Himalayas in 1970s, it raised consciousness across India for saving trees, caring for environment, planting as many saplings as possible and increasing green cover. As with any tree that bears fruits over time, India is among a handful of countries in the world that has seen decisive increase in green cover over the past decade. Planting trees is a national obsession and luminaries of present age such as Sadhguru are leading movements to plant trees by 100s of Millions. Was Chipko Movement or any of its prominent members ever recognized by Nobel Foundation? Of course, Not. Also, Chipko Movement happened decades before Climate Change and Sustainability became the business they are today.
Indian freedom struggle from British Colonial Rule culminated in Freedom of India in 1947, though in very tragic and trying circumstances. It made the sun set on an empire that was expected to rule the world for ever. Indian freedom struggle triggered a domino effect that led to almost 50 nations becoming independent from colonial rules. Was anyone from Indian freedom struggle awarded the Nobel. Hell no!! Why would such an abomination be perpetrated?
Should I even mention literature? While Indians would be mercilessly beaten up during the freedom struggle, they would sing poems penned by one Maithili Sharan Gupt for unwavering resolve and courage. Does Nobel Foundation even know about him? Why would they?
I have a thought: there should be a sitcom with the central theme of Nobel Foundation tutoring those who missed out on Nobels on how to get one, and the last episode should end with the tutor spanking Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the hind quarters for not doing the right thing to win #NobelPeacePrize.
Time for Asia, Africa to institute a joint award for excellence in social change, financial freedom, applied sciences, and public health. #NarendraModi and #XiJinping are you listening!