PEACE NOBEL 2014: KAILASH SATYARTHI’S FIELDWORK WITH MALALA YOUSAFZAI’S SYMBOLISM

The 5-member Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee, with election for three out of its five spots slated later this year, chose to play it safe by awarding two names no one would criticize, at least the names who made for the headlines and generate subsequent rounds of controversy. Malala Yousafzai, who makes for headlines and is a favourite of the Western media, has become a ‘celebrity’ activist in just two years symbolizing aspirations of millions of girls in her country Pakistan. Her name was among the most debated ones even the last year and the Nobel committee had to award the 17-year old activist, now residing in Britain, sooner or later. The other, Kailash Satyarthi from India, has had an impressive track record spread over decades working for children’s rights.

Yes, it was known that Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s Kailash Satyarthi was nominated but he was nowhere even remotely near to figure in the intense debates and discourses that precede the Peace Nobel announcement every year.

No Peace Nobel commentator in news spoke on his chances. No Peace Nobel expert on the block analyzed his work to speak on his claim. No Peace Nobel bookmaker in business placed stakes on him.

So, it came as a pleasant surprise when the five Norwegian politicians decided on Mr. Satyarthi’s name recognizing decades of tough, real ground work bringing change to the lives, saving children from bonded labour and inhuman working conditions, and sincerely trying to give them a future.

And thankfully, in India, the youngest nation demographically, a nation with still worrying literacy and health parameters, there are many silent crusaders and champions of humanity like him – Sindhutai Sakpal, Dr. Binayak Sen, Ela Bhatt, Deep Joshi, Sunitha Krishnan, to name a few.

So, it’s a well deserved due that an activist working for the children’s rights in the world’s youngest nation but also with maximum number of poor has got. And it will certainly motivate the others in the fraternity.

Yes, some of them are celebrity names in ‘cause-based’ activism but they never carry that celebrity aura that makes many ‘celebrity activists’ ‘news worthy’ with ‘celebrity fighting for a cause’ tag. They work consistently. And they work silently.

That silence is only broken whenever some big news event like an award like the Peace Nobel or Ramon Magsaysay happens or when there is confrontation with parties involved that obstruct the activists from realizing the outcome of their rightful ‘causes’.

And awarding Mr. Satyarthi the Peace Nobel jointly with Malala Yousafzai makes sense.

After the Taliban attack for defying the dictat of not going to school that almost killed her, she has become the symbolism of girls’ right to education in poorest and most orthodox societies commoditizing and exploiting women as objects. She symbolizes the undying spirit of persisting for the opportunities to make a life of dignity and social parity the foundation of which is laid in the childhood, something that is a must for to propel through the adolescence to the formative years of early adulthood. Hope, someday, she would be able to go back and work in the field for the deprived girls in her country.

Recognizing Mr. Satyarthi’s groundwork with Malala’s symbolism draws attention to the known, dark but largely ignored aspects of child-rights across countries and across societies that need enhanced priority in a world where over 60% of the population in the poorest countries is below the age of 25. And remember, the girl child is considered a discarded entry in many of these societies.

It is not for the India-Pakistan or the Hindu-Muslim rhetoric of the Nobel Peace committee, but for this combination of fieldwork and symbolism that makes this year Peace Nobel decision worth the name of Peace Nobel, the world’s still most prestigious recognition that is increasingly regularly attracting criticism, something that has forced the government in Norway to work on the structure of the ‘committee’ .

Yes, to be honest of the realities and true to be true to the global politics, it is not going to change anything on the ongoing border hostilities between India and Pakistan and it is not going to stop the Hindu-Muslim riots , until the mindset changes, the mindset of the billions who don’t even know don’t care for what a Peace Nobel is, people who force the children in bonded labour, people who traffic children, people who force girls into prostitution, people who shot Malala.

The Peace Nobel is still the most prestigious recognition because it draws worldwide attention to an issue, a problem area, and therefore a symbolic win for the people working to address it and for the humankind that says, yes, there is an urgent need to attend to that problem.

Yes, it does motivate the people acting for the cause to uproot the problem or to address the issue, but it does little to affect the mindset of those behind the issue or the problem.

Did Liu Xiaobo’s 2010 Peace Nobel change anything in China? No, in fact China has become more ruthless and has increased its crackdown on activists and democratic voices of dissent.

Did the 2012 Peace Nobel to the European Union made the Union more cohesive? No, its future is still as threatened as was in 2012.

Is the Peace Nobel to Malala going to change the way Taliban see the women and their position in the societies controlled by them? No.

Yes, but it does motivate the fraternity of activists to do more, to seek more from the society for their ‘causes’.

Mr. Satyarthi, whose two colleagues were killed while saving children from inhuman working conditions, said in an interview that there are 168 million children forced into child labour globally and there are 200 million adults jobless and it would be a great service to humanity and to the humankind if Peace Nobel 2014 could push (or for that matter, motivate) the world powers, engaged in geopolitical maneuvering to promote self-interests abashed, to give a sensitive ear to this harrowingly imbalanced linkage of human lives to the need and denial of livelihoods.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KEEP THE SANCTITY UP OF THE ‘RESEARCH’ PLEASE

We see regular news reports quoting some (or some sort of) research study. The subject of these research studies vary from terrorism to lifestyle, from life threatening diseases to spiritual preferences, from views on life to discourses on death. And are a good source to populate the spaces in newspapers, magazines and web portals. Yes, not all of them are fillers. But yes, almost of them are fillers.

Dig a little about further details, like for the research parameters – the area covered under the study, the sample size, other related studies, the proportion of primary and secondary research work, the data collection tools used, and the final analysis and we come across lazily done works with no regard for even the basic research techniques.

And most of these studies, with no defined sampling techniques and a very limited exposure to the test subjects and the subject itself, cannot be generalized at all. Yet, they make for the news reports, across the continents. So, a localized research study done over 30 people in the US makes for generalized news reports on some lifestyle effect on body in India or Pakistan or a similarly done study in Britain makes headway into Nigeria or Turkey.

The sources of information behind such news reports make for interesting observations the way they are dug into and collected. A research study done over a month with very limited geographical outreach and focus suddenly comes out with ‘eureka sort’ of findings that are localized and interpreted to unravel some nagging problem in a far away corner of the world.

The methodologies of such studies are either not designed or are designed locally. Most of the time the final outcome is based on some flimsily done analysis. The researchers, they don’t care to understand the historical and the prevailing context to get into the basic parameters of a study. Most of the time they ‘study’ through the documents, sitting in a comfortable armchair, employing their skills on their secondary source of information, which are seldom verified for the context or use-worthiness for the subject.

Such research studies are interesting stuff the way they are carried out, compromising on the very ethics of a research work that makes it an enduring legacy of an academic work to be used for a generalized purpose.

And such research studies are carried out in every stream, on every possible subject, in the manner of roundtable negotiations, with no concern for rechecking and reconfirming the facts and going out in the field to cross-verify the information contained in the secondary sources.

Most of such studies are done in historical and contextual isolations and the researchers never bother to know and understand the context of the subject matter at hand. They flimsily analyse and process the information based on their own cultural contexts and ethos looking at the facts from the spectacle of their own societies.

And for many media carriers, most of them do not care before printing such stuff, such observations which are contextually misplaced.

These works are mostly products of half-baked intellects where the creators are not aware of the context of the subject or they don’t do the proper pre-research study work, the contextual interpretation of ‘how, what and why’ of the subject under study or the work under development.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/