President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 during a lackluster ceremony in Oslo. Much has been said and written about the justification of this award and whether Obama actually deserved that. It is time to move on with life and instead focus our energies on future Nobel Peace Prizes. This is certainly one of the most controversial awards in recent history and people have never been satisfied with the awarding process.
There is a feeling in this part of the world that the Nobel Committee favors whites and those from the developed world. They say that more than 75% of Nobel Peace laureates are white and from the western world. Others opine that the committee gets overwhelmed with the contemporary global situation and awards this prize accordingly. People also raise questions about the criterion of selection of candidates and, more importantly, the selection of winners.
Pakistanis, in particular, have serious reservations about this prize. They site the example of Abdul Sattar Edhi, the mother Teresa of Pakistan, as he has never received a Nobel despite several nominations. This has happened despite the fact that he runs the largest free ambulance service in the world and provides food, shelter and free health care to millions of impoverished Pakistanis.
He is probably the only person in the world that is ready to fly to any place or country that has been devastated by a natural or man-made disaster. He has taken food and medical supplies to Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and even India. There is no governmental help and everything is donated by common Pakistanis who themselves do not earn a respectable living. There are dozens of Edhi centers around the country with separate boarding and lodging for the orphans, widows, mentally or physically handicapped and the old besides providing burial service.
And it is not just people like Edhi that have been ignored by the Nobel Committee. There are dozens of other human rights activists, doctors, aid workers, environmentalists that have been sidestepped by the Nobel Committee.
Being a citizen of this world, I think I can make some requests -- not suggestions -- to the Nobel Committee. These are the thoughts of Pakistanis that i have interacted with on this issue and shared by people from other parts of the developing world.
The best way to avoid any future controversy over the prize is to make it more public. A public participation can be in the form of a polling Web site or any other means deemed suitable by the committee. They also need to make certain strict guidelines for this award. Politicians/leaders do not make for good nominees unless they have done something extraordinary like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr, among others. Interestingly enough, Gandhi never won the prize, though had several nominations.
The best candidates for this award, in my opinion, are educationists, medical professionals, peace activists and development workers. These are the people that carry the torch of humanity forward and bring peace and prosperity to our planet. There always remains room for improvement and the "committee" can also upgrade its awarding process and make it more transparent. But, the question remains the same. Will they actually do it?