NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015 TO TUNISIA’S NATIONAL DIALOGUE QUARTET: A PERFECTLY LOGICAL DECISION

“The National Dialogue Quartet must be given much of the credit for this achievement and for ensuring that the benefits of the Jasmine Revolution have not been lost. Tunisia faces significant political, economic and security challenges. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that this year’s prize will contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world. More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the Committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries.”

– The Norwegian Noble Committee, October 10, 2015

Now, for the first time, in its recent history, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has chosen a winner that all would agree to – all who watch geopolitical developments and understand the importance of the ‘Tunisian example’ in a world marred by civil wars, dictatorships and terrorism.

And the press release by the Nobel Committee sums it up logically.

The Nobel Peace Prize has had a controversial history when it comes to selecting its winners. The universal perception is, and the stated reason behind ‘deciding the recipient’ is, that it would ‘recruit’ global attention, its local manifestation, more organizations and more people to the cause that the ‘selected’ person(s)/organization(s) is/are associated with.

That is not the underlying reason always and there have been no assessments on ‘links between yearly selections and intended recruitment results’.

The recent spate of controversies began with the unusual ‘Peace Nobel’ decision to award Barack Obama in 2009, for raising hopes with his elevation as the President of the United States of America (with no ‘such’ past to talk about), and continued with the ‘too late’ decision about the European Union in 2012 and the compromise decision with ‘Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yusufzai’ in 2014.

The 2010 decision to recognize Liu Xiaobo was a much needed step but had its global repercussions with China flexing its muscles at every stage, first in trying to derail the decision, and then exercising its power to affect ‘opinionating’ by many countries.

So, in a way, since 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee had three ‘controversial decisions’ in five years and the committee chose to play safe by naming Malala Yusufzai, again ‘for raising hopes’ and balancing the decision by adding Kailash Satyarthi, a career activist working for children but certainly not the national, regional or global icon, in 2014.

But 2015’s decision to name the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia is really apt, is to the point, and is rightly based on geopolitical developments.

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution that gave rise to the larger ‘Arab Spring’ movement in many countries in North Africa and the Middle East is the only bright spot if we look back at its journey against authoritarian regimes in different countries.

Libya, Yemen and Syria are badly stuck in civil wars. Libya and Syria didn’t see power transitions after the Arab Spring that could keep the countries well on the way of becoming peaceful democracies. The fight to change the regime in Syria has the biggest terror menace since Al Qaeda to control, the Islamic State that has overran vast parts of Syria and Iraq. In Egypt, first it was Muslim Brotherhood, a shady organization, and now a military ruler. In other countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arab which are absolute monarchies, the mass movements have been effectively crushed.

But not in Tunisia!

Tunisia, a small country with ‘not much’ geopolitical stakes, is globally important because it is the only ‘survivor’ of the Arab Spring, the biggest mass movement in the recent history.

‘Survivor’ because there are forces in authoritarian regimes spread across the world, especially in Muslim monarchies, and terror outfits like the Islamic State, that would do all to destabilize Tunisia to create situations like Libya or Yemen or Syria or Egypt – to create situations that would tell the world that the Arab Spring failed to produce any result even in its birth place.

The transition, from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorial regime to democracy now, has been quite a journey for Tunisia. The journey that began in December 2010 and took first step towards reconstruction in January 2011 had an Islamist party government with its proposed ‘controversial constitution’, political assassinations and widespread protest movements.

But thankfully, Tunisia had strong civil society organizations – organizations that formed this National Dialogue Quartet – organizations that represented workers, activists, lawyers and business outfits.

The four civil society organizations in Tunisia that form the National Dialogue Quartet in 2013 – the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Human Rights League, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, and the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts – played pivotal role in convincing Ennahda, the Islamist party in the government, to step down – and in laying down a roadmap for further (and rightful) democratic transition.

As the Norwegian Nobel Committee says, and as we know, a strong democratic tradition in Tunisia would serve as the reminder to others, in other countries, that what they had fought for.

A successful spring in Tunisia, originating from the Jasmine Revolution, would be a tribute to the fighting spirit that had made the Arab Spring a multi-country movement.

And the world has its tasks cut in ensuring that it happens in Tunisia – helping those who are helping to restore peace and strengthen democracy in the country – given the fact that the destabilizing forces are active to perpetrate terror and chaos – with two large scale terror attacks in Tunisia this year that killed scores – and with radical elements trying to recruit more collaborative hands.

The decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2015 to the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia should be seen as a logical step towards that.

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

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AN INDIAN AND A PAKISTANI SHARE PEACE NOBEL: NOTHING REALPOLITIKAL ABOUT IT

It was all so good. It looked brilliant on screens wherever the broadcast was being shown. The rounds of applause were spontaneous. The value addition of musical performances by artists from India and Pakistan was a treat to eyes and ears.

It happens like this every year, except the value addition.

What was announced two months ago had its final movement today, like it happens every year.

Yes, it echoes more in the niches that belong to the winners – their field of work and the part of the world they come from.

But, the echo remains more on the airwaves and in black and white words and for masses, it, at best, serves the purpose of giving recognition and spreading the symbolism that recognizes the cause and the efforts being made by the person/organization for it.

That is the limit and the reality of it, irrespective of the value additions done.

In terms of engineering change, it is nowhere close to the realpolitik of the ground reality in most of the cases and when the case in question is India Vs Pakistan, then a Peace Nobel jointly to an Indian and a Pakistani doesn’t make any ground for a ‘India + Pakistan’ scenario.

Kailash Satyarthi has made India proud but it is equally true that he is still not widely known in India and there are many other social activists in his league.

Malala Yousafzai has successfully highlighted the plight of girls in Pakistan once again but it is equally true that she is not the voice that can reach deeply in Pakistan, to the subjects that she mentions in each of her speeches. No one can say when she would be able to travel back to her country to take on the field work.

Apart from talking points, the joint Peace Nobel 2014 doesn’t hold any ground for the two Asian rivals where one is an emerging global power and a giant when seen on the scales of economy and military while the other is a chaotic nation following the policy of state sponsored terror pushed by its military, the strongest institution in the country.

Pakistan, born out of India, on religious divide, could never reconcile with the dominant status which India naturally had, being an old civilization with a rich and diversify history and a much larger country. The unsolved border issue and Jammu & Kashmir gave an early start to the aspirations of people heading the military there and a limping start of democracy soon gave them the avenue to usurp the power. Since then, it has been the inferiority complex of the Pakistan’s military complex that has pushed it to wage many wars with India to prove its superiority. Pakistan has lost all – the only natural consequence possible.

And in desperation, it has led its military establishment to try all, including sponsoring and exporting proxy war and terrorism in India.

And it all began and has sustained in the name of religious fanaticism.

That religious fanaticism and Pakistan military’s over-dependence on it are the basic elements of the realpolitik that guide the way Pakistan keeps up with India and the ground reality is really hostile, with increased ceasefire violations and anti-India rhetoric by Pakistan in the recent months, that has found a tough respondent in the Narendra Modi led Indian government.

While talking on ‘India Vs Pakistan’ to ‘India + Pakistan’ realpolitik, we need to come back to this reality again and again.

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

WHY THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE IS STILL THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS RECOGNITION (BUT WITHIN A FRONTIER)

Peace Nobel is still the most talked about and speculated for Nobel Prize given its ‘political nature’ and the ‘emphasis’ on socio-political themes attached with the decision-making process that gives enhanced recognition to an issue and draws worldwide attention that many ‘powers’ don’t like; or highlights an issue that has been always there with activists working on to bring changes but doesn’t come in the priority list of the ‘powers’.

And for such reasons, the Peace Nobel decisions draw intense scrutiny, gesturing and maneuvering, generating copiously flow of controversial sub-plots sometimes.

The most notable example of it has been China’s intense opposition to the Nobel Peace Prize given to The Dalai Lama in 1989 and to the Chinese writer, dissident and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

Every year, in the run-up to the Peace Nobel announcement, the buzz starts soon after the nomination starts and starts taking a definitive shape once the nominations are closed and the concerned Nobel Committees short-lists that ‘small and final list’ from out of hundreds of nominations. It starts peaking around in August and reaches its crescendo in the week prior to the announcements in October.

And it is not for nothing. Peace Nobel is still the most prestigious recognition because it draws worldwide attention to an issue, a problem area, affecting scores of human lives, but suppressed or deliberately ignored or not being given due attention, 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 specific problem and the time is ‘now’.

Peace Nobel is still the most prestigious recognition because it has the potential to motivate and unite the people working for a cause by recognizing the efforts of one stellar name from that fraternity. It may be people. It may be organization. It may be some social evil. It may be some international issue plaguing the process of peace for decades.

Yes, and 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. And that is the limit of this recognition, the extent to which its message reaches, the frontier beyond which there lies a wilderness ravaged by the man.

The Nobel Peace Prize is important for this symbolism that has the potential to translate into significantly enhanced personal endeavors because we cannot expect crowds to lead. It is always the individuals who lead and show the way (or organizations in the case).

And whatever be the reasons and the vision, grandly worded, the Peace Nobel is to be seen increasingly in this context, the symbolism of it, where it can positively affect the corrective processes in addressing social evils.

That is what the world needs. That is what the humanity needs where billions of people still languish in abject poverty and are imprisoned in ghettos of inhumanely orthodox and culturally backward societies, especially for its women.

The world needs people who can work to show these people the way to ‘life’. The world needs many more people like Kailashi Satyarthi, in every part of the world, where humanity is being assassinated every passing day. And a Peace Nobel recognition can motivate many more. And a Peace Nobel decision can draw many more to a ‘cause’.

Let the world peace and terrorism to the world powers for some time.

The Peace Nobel cannot bring peace between India and Pakistan because Pakistan’s belligerent ruling class gets its lease of life from its military that in turn draws authority in the country due to its anti-India rhetoric exploiting the deep chasms of Hindu-Muslim divide across the border. It cannot change the way the Taliban treat women in their areas in Pakistan and China or ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It cannot change the undemocratic and anti-humanity ways of dictatorship in China and Russia. It cannot bring peace even between Israel and Palestine, in fact has miserably failed here. It cannot change the conditions of civil war in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria or in many other countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world.

In the prevailing geopolitical scenario, only forced interventions, military or economic, depending on the war theater, or a large scale internal uprising supported by the world community, can bring the change needed. The efforts to rebuild the humanity can only take place after that. And Peace and the Nobel Peace Prize, to and from such hotbeds of crisis, can come only after that.

Global geopolitical realities are cruel and can change from bad to worse in a matter of months Al Qaeda and ISIS have shown us. And on ‘such realities’, ‘promising’ aspirations don’t work or ‘fail to work’.

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

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/