One can almost hear the collective sigh of disappointment across the world among the South Asian communities and indeed among others as well with Malala Yousafzai missing out on the coveted Nobel peace prize. The reaction in fandom ranged from disbelief to disappointment to anger. This idolization of Malala and the expectation of her winning the biggest peace prize in the World is a symbolization of the trends in the World.
Malala Yousafzai is a young teenage girl, from one of the most poor and most conservative areas in Pakistan. She was going to school and was shot by the Taliban. It is important to note here, that in that area, the bombing of girls schools and even boys schools, and poisoning and shooting of female students is a random regular act, and Malala is not and was not the only girl to have been shot. She survived, and with much credit, moved on with her life and strong determination to continue study. How much that was her personal determination, how much that was the influence of her father, who is actually the one behind her fight is to be determined with unbiased analysis in the future. However, her only act of courage, defiance, and fame…is to get shot by the Taliban. With all due respect to the young lady and her determination and courage, that’s not enough service to the cause of World peace to merit a Nobel Prize.
The Nobel peace prize is considered to be a joke among certain quarters, including many academics and journalists. First of all, it is not quantifiable, like Physics, Chemistry, Medicine or Economics, which makes it arbitrary. Also recently, US President Barack Obama winning the prize just months after coming to office, almost as if in anticipation of his coming benevolent deeds, or the European Union receiving the prize, just for having no wars in Western Europe and somehow managing to maintain cohesion of constantly bickering states, has eroded the credibility of the award.
However, this time, the Nobel committee did a good job. The organization which won the prize, has done praiseworthy job of destroying ninety percent chemical weapons of the World, including the whole arsenal of India and South Korea, the Libyan chemical weapons under Gaddafi, the arsenal of Iraq, and over two third of the humongous Cold war stockpiles of both United States and Soviet Union, enough to destroy humanity on this planet several hundred times over. It is important to acknowledge the organization’s work, given the time that they are embarking on another challenging task, this time in Syria.
Finally, the hype over Malala in Western media is symbolic of the times we live in. To acknowledge her battle is one thing, to venerate her in a talk show, give her a meaningless prize and then move on to something more newsworthy is ephemeral; is what is wrong with the World. Most of the people who are dancing and fangirl-ing about Peace and Nobel Prize and Malala, had absolutely no idea about the organization OPCW, which won this time, and what they did to the cause of World peace. The talk show host who wants to adopt Malala, glosses over the fact that poverty, ignorance, women’s education, terrorism are structural problems, linked to and influenced by forces of Geo-politics and economics, which won’t go away if you make a Miley Cyrus out of Malala. The left-feminist-liberal lobby which is all giddy over Malala, are the same people who oppose US war against Taliban, indirectly supporting those who shot Malala.
The world is not a simple place. It is complicated, the problems are multifaceted. The allure of finding a short term symbolic solution is often great, but not prudent. The solution lies in an unbiased understanding of the problem, and working on it for a long time. Not creating a hype, with token symbolisms and then forgetting and moving on with life.
(Previously published here)