Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama, Nobel Prize for Peace & Pygmalion Effect!

I was not at all  surprised [don’t believe me!] as I read the news this evening! US President, Barack Obama wins the Nobel Prize for Peace 2009. Nobel Prize Committee says it decided to honour Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." And the man is in the serious business of dealing with the world for not even over ten months and do not have even a single diplomatic success to his credit till now. The news  reminded me of Pygmalion Effect.

Pygmalion Effect or Rosenthal Effect is a simple theory. It says, if you place greater expectations on people they perform better. In other words, if you keep telling a man that he is good, he will try to be as good as possible by him. Or at least appear to you to be so! [Wives, take note please!] Whoever is in the Committee that decides the Nobel Prize for Peace are real great fans of Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson, who wrote a report on Pygmalion Effect at length. Perhaps, they think that the award will make Obama more serious about peace and keep his promises as he is awarded ‘more for promise than achievement’ Call the man an Angel of Peace and he will  eventually become an Angel of Peace, what an idea sirji!
I do not attach great value to Nobel Prize for Peace. To me it is an award that was never awarded to the greatest icon of peace ever to walk on this earth – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhiji was nominated in for Nobel Prize for Peace in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948. Jacob Worm-Müller, wrote in his report about Gandhi in 1937, “He is a freedom fighter and a dictator, an idealist and a nationalist. He is frequently a Christ, but then, suddenly, an ordinary politician."  Later in 1947, when Gandhiji was nominated, it was rejected based on a report from Reuters in The Times on September 27, 1947, which quoted him saying: “if there was no other way of securing justice from Pakistan and if Pakistan persistently refused to see its proved error and continued to minimise it, the Indian Union Government would have to go to war against it.”  In 1948, he was not given the award because, “Gandhi did not belong to an organisation, he left no property behind and no will” and there was no one eligible to receive the prize money.
I feel, four times the Nobel Prize for Peace Committee was prejudiced or wrong about Gandhi. In 1937, it was probably Jacob Worm-Müller’s respect for Great Britain doing the reporting. In 1947, he was partially quoted. The fact was, Reuters did not report the part where he added he had no place " in a new order where they wanted an army, a navy, an air force and what not". In 1948, of course for the fifth , they did not have any choice as Gandhiji had outgrown Nobel Prize.

This brings us back to Barack Obama. I can see no other reason than Pygmalion Effect that got Obama this honour. Obama is humbly surprised at this gesture by the Nobel Prize Committe. He said in reply to the announcement, "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership.  I will accept this award as a call to action."  I hope this will make Obama act on his promises. I also wish the Nobel Prize Committee had this idea during the last American President’s first year in Office. No offence meant to Obama, they could have awarded George Bush with Nobel Prize for Peace during his first year in Office and we could have avoided Afghanistan and Iraq. This would have made Obama’s call for action a little more easier to handle.
Coincidentally, I am reading Obama’s Dreams from My Father. I bought the book yesterday. I grabbed the book as I came home from work today and I was on the third page when I got this urge to get online. And the Nobel Prize for Peace was the first news I saw. Sure, he writes well and appears to be a very interesting read. I am reading the part where Obama’s aunt Jane calls him from Nairobi to inform him that his father is killed in a car accident. The news triggers his memories about his father, as he is ‘trying to measure his loss’. And the book, I guess, goes on to tell us how the dreams from his father made him the Barack Obama that he is today. No offence meant to the human being in Obama again, I think, like Louisa Thomas of News Week, that he should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature instead to make it sound a little more acceptable. Sadly, Nobel Prize for Literature is given for an ‘accumulated body of work written over a lifetime, not to single books, and that rules out Obama” 
I wonder what else being American President can do to a person in 21st Century.!


  1. HI Sojo,

    firstly i must thank yu for posting such an informative reads...

    Thanks for the news and quotes about gandhi ji especially.. i never heard of those ..

    i too wish that the prize will be a wake up call for action..lets hope fr the best...

    thanks for posting this..

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting Pramoda. :)

  3. peace prize for american leadership. great. switzerland leadership should then receive it too for being almost peaceful during war.

    by the way a really informative post :)

  4. Thanks for reading Olive.

    Let us hope that Nobel Prize Committee considers Switzerland Leadership for peace before the next American President swears in and they get this irresistible urge to give him the award!

  5. What an interesting, informative post that was! I think its shocking how Gandhiji was not bestowed the Nobel Price. The reasons for denying him are so flimsy, not that it makes a difference. Gandhiji doesn't need a Nobel Prize to keep his vision and name alive in the hearts of millions across the world. Thanks for this post.

  6. and thanks for the comment :) U r right, Gandhi is beyond any award. However the fact that he was not awarded though he was nominated tells us something, doesn't it?