Who is Kailash Satyarthi and why was he awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? We look at his achievements & criticism and other Indians connected with the Nobel Peace Prize

kailash satyarthi All about Kailash Satyarthi & Why He Won the Nobel

  1. Even the most ill informed of us now probably know that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been won jointly by India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan; an award that can be seen as symbolic in so many ways – because of their respective faiths, the currently strained relations between the two countries, for the reasons what the two individuals have won their prizes – “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education” and more. committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, speaks of the joint award – “a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism” (Quote – New York Times)
  2. While Malala, “what terrorists fear most: a girl with a book,” is internationally known for having been shot in the head by the Taliban and living to tell the tale and now also known for being the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, we know far less about the low key, unassuming Kailash Satyarthi.
  3. Satyarthi lives in Delhi and has been working against child labour for decades now. He gave up his job as a teacher in 1980 to join the Bonded Labor Liberation Front general secretary. He has founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan and has been involved in other child advocacy groups like Global March Against Child Labor, International Center on Child Labor and Education and the Global Campaign for Education.
  4. Satyarthi has put forth arguments against child labour; explaining how this social malaise perpetuates poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, population growth and other social problems. His work has been internationally recognised by awards such as the Defenders of Democracy Award (US in 2009), Gold medal of the (Italian Senate in 2007), Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Award (Germany, 1999), Golden Flag Award (Netherlands, 1998), The Aachener International Peace Award (Germany, 1994) and many others.
  5. Satyarthi’s salutary efforts have included rescuing 80,000 children from slavery and child labour and rescusing women from enslavement, sexual assault and deplorable working conditions. He was also instrumental in establishing ‘Rugmark’, a certification system that guarantees child labour free products. His work includes activism that puts pressure on industry and authorities that exploit children.
  6. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times over the past decade as well – he was also nominated the year that American President Barack Obama won. According to Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute 278 candidates were nominated for the Peace Prize this year; the highest number of nominations ever for the honour. (Source – Economic Times)
  7. Satyarthi has received death threats for his work in the past and now his work is also being called into question. Accusations are now being leveled that a foreign hand is behind his having won, that the award is not deserved and that India’s social problems are exploited and revealed to the world via such actions.
  8. Mother Teresa is the only other (naturalized) Indian to have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Satyarthi’s award has once again focused attention on the organisation’s failure to award the prize to Mahatma Gandhi. According to Lundestad, “The biggest mistake we have made in our 112-year history is not having given the Nobel peace to Gandhi.” (Quote Source – Times of India)
  9. As many as 12 Indians were in race for the Peace Prize this year; second highest number of nominations from a single country. Nominations are typically made by Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries as well as former Nobel laureates.
  10. One of the contenders from India this year is Indian geneticist Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan. He is known as the father of India’s Green Revolution and is known for his identifying crop species with higher levels of micronutrients and introducing them into the farming system. (Source – WSJ Blogs)

Image source – Kailash Satyarthi, Facebook

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