Mahatma Gandhi tops the list of seven people who never won the Nobel Peace Prize “but should have” in the opinion of prestigious Foreign Policy magazine.
Noting that from Henry Kissinger to Yasser Arafat, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has made some controversial picks over the years, the magazine listed Eleanor Roosevelt, Vaclav Havel and Ken Saro-Wiwa among the other deserving but deprived ones.
Gandhi, the magazine noted “was the spiritual and political leader of the Indian independence movement and an advocate of non-violent resistance as a means to effect social change”.
“History’s most famous pacifist is probably the peace prize’s most famous omission, and the Nobel Foundation has even a web page explaining its side of the story,” it noted.
“Gandhi made the Nobel short list three times: in 1937, 1947, and then posthumously in 1948. In 1937, the committee’s advisor criticised Gandhi’s dual role as a peace activist and political leader of an independence movement, writing that ‘he is frequently a Christ, but then, suddenly, an ordinary politician’”
As India and Pakistan achieved independence in 1947, Gandhi’s crowning triumph was tempered by the violence and dislocation that resulted.
“With tensions growing in the summer of 1947, the Nobel committee hesitated to award the peace prize to someone so closely identified with one of the combatants,” the magazine said.
The committee also seems to have been affected by regional and racial biases; most of the prior awards had been given to white European men, it said.
Although the committee considered awarding Gandhi the prize in 1948, following his assassination, Alfred Nobel’s will clearly required that the award be given to a living person.
However, the decision to not dispense any award that year because “there was no suitable living candidate” appears to be an implicit admission that the committee missed its opportunity to recognise Gandhi’s accomplishments, Foreign Policy said.