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Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize, Is It A Deserving One?

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Anshul Tewari

U.S. President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Obama had been awarded the prize for his calls to reduce the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons and work towards restarting the stalled Middle East peace process.

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Unlike the other Nobel Prizes, which are awarded by Swedish institutions, he said the peace prize should be given out by a five-member committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament. Sweden and Norway were united under the same crown at the time of Nobel’s death.

But the question is that did Obama deserve this one. He is probably on the right path to win a Nobel Peace prize but has he done “the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations.”

The committee praised Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

“Very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”

Poland’s anti-communist leader and 1983 Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa expressed “For the time being Obama’s just making proposals. But sometimes the Nobel committee awards the prize to encourage responsible action.” He also called it “Too fast”.

Considering that Obama is on the right path and doing whatever he can at this moment, he hasn’t earned the experience nor has a pathbreaking achievement in building peace, and has thus invited a flood of mixed views.

A new media website Now Public posted “Obama is trying to impose more sanctions on Iran and has said he will act to stop Iran from continuing nuclear research. Obama has done nothing to advance peace in the middle east. He still gives American arms to Israel.”

It has been nearly 8 months since President Obama has been sworn in, and he is still in the process of establishing his credibility.

Apoorva Pushpita of Delhi University feels, “I have a feeling even we should prepare to receive one of these prizes since it seems like they’r easier to get than we thought! They are actually overdoing the whole Obama effect, even before it begins to ‘affect’.”

Astik Sinha, a student of Peace Building and Conflict Resolution feels, “My only problem is that it is premature. He is on the right path…which is symbolic. He has deviated from his predecessor’s line of policy, and he has bridged most gaps, atleast symbolicaly. It’s like awarding a baby with a bycycle as soon as he starts walking ! But as I said…it’s just early, nothing else…as I see it.”

Jennifer Sung, another student of Delhi University feels, “Giving away something like a Nobel prze for carrying out presidential duties*(told to be his extraordinary efforts in strengthening international diplomacy and for taking landmark initiatives to create a nuclear-free world*) which were more or less in his own coutry’s favour is so not fair.”

Back in the United States of America Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who won the peace prize himself in 2002, said Obama’s win showed the hope he had inspired worldwide.

“It is a bold statement of international support for his vision and commitment to peace and harmony in international relations,” Carter said in a statement.

Itya Silverio, 33, of Brooklyn, was also surprised. “My first opinion is that he got it because he’s black,” she said. “What did he do that was so great? He hasn’t even finished office yet.”

When told of Obama’s win Robert Schultz, 62, a retired civil servant and Vietnam veteran, asked: “For doing what?

“The guy hasn’t solved any conflict anywhere so how can he win the peace prize? But if we don’t reelect him the next go around we will all look like idiots because the world has anointed him,” said Schultz, who lives in a suburb of Dallas.

Now this has certainly raised mixed views. But what do you think? What is your voice?
Should Obama have been awarded the Nobel Peace prize? And if not, why?

You must be to comment.
  1. megha

    Nobel Peace Prize 2009 not only places psychological pressure on Obama to fulfill our expectations but also the pressure to not be just-another-US-president who reinforces the hegemony of the US as a hard(military) and soft(political)power

  2. BK Chowla

    This should be the last Nobel Prize.

  3. Youth Ki Awaaz

    @ Megha- Thanks a lot for the comment. This prize will put a huge huge responsibility on Obama. He now has to live up to the mark others have set for him. And if he does not, then we all know what's gonna happen.

    @ Mr. Chowla- Not the last one, but yeah, the others shall be more thought of.

  4. Hari Batti

    With all due respect, Obama won because he didn't look like this:



  5. parul

    i dont think that Mr. Obama shud have got such a nobel prize because he may be planning to do a lot of things gor world peace or a nuclear weapon free world but he still has not even started doin his job….he is far far away frm achieving even a tiny percentage of his goal…i m not in the favour of this decision. but america and americanz have always ruled nd will do it forever

  6. Youth Ki Awaaz

    @ Hari Batti – Nice one man. Thanks for the comment 😀

    @ Parul- I agree with you completely, but I guess he had to win this award sometime or the other because he was the only one who initiated something against the nuclear weapons, and I guess that at a later stage he could have done better. But I am still not sure. And now that he has received the award, only time will tell if he lives up to the expectations or not…

  7. Robert

    The gifitng of the nobel prize to Pres. Obama is just one more sign of the breakdown of rationality and reason in the West due to Post-Modern relativism and addiction to material pleasures. Let us hope this event marks a low point for the West and things get better from here on. Hope? A wise man once said that "hope" was the last and worst of the vanities to fly out of Pandora's box of evils, for it is hope that causes mankind to cling to life and so to suffer all the evils unleashed. To place one's hopes in a demi-god like figure is to set the stage for great suffering. Individuals must make the difference themselves, often by banding together, but always by applying the rules of reason guided by spiritual inclination, and not by mob like behavior that seeks only to drag down the strong and beautiful so that they no longer stand as a signpost as to how wretched you are. Begin by taking a step in the right direction. Example and prediction: based on how the maoists came to power in Nepal, via blind murder and violence, it is not likely there will be much improvement in the quality of life there. One evil, though a noble one, has been replaced by another, this one ignoble. On the other hand, by the merciless annihilation of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, and the merciful developement occuring now, in the near future the Tamils will enjoy a much higher quality of life than the Nepalese. None of that improvement will have had anything to do with Pres. Obama – to his credit, he did not take action to spare Prabakaran. Hope is a vanity born of ignorance. The abandonment of hope brings stoicism and pragmatism, which lead to improved conditions, as long as the heart is still pure – that is, free of resentment.

    (note: the end of the LTTE and the ensuing development in Sri Lanka was/is funded by Chinese money, their excess of which is due to sales of merchandise to the USA)

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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