From 2nd October 2023 onwards for a week each day , we will have the names of the personalities or organisations , who have been chosen for the coveted and most sought after award on this planet called THE NOBEL PRIZE for the year 2023 !
This award is conferred each year in the month of October since its inception in 1901 and continues nearly uninterrupted in the fields of Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace and Economic Science .
The man behind this prize was non other than Alfred Nobel who was an inventor, scientist, entrepreneur and businessman par excellence who also excelled in poetry and dramatics ! .
Born on 21 st October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden , Alfred Nobel held 355 patents himself including that of Dynamite , which fetched him millions of dollars during his life time. Just a year before his death , in the year 1895 on November 27 th he willed 31 million SEK ( about 265 million dollars today) for Nobel prizes in three branches of science , Literature and Peace to “Those who , during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind “ as quoted from Alfred Nobel’s will . Since then The Nobel foundation has been given the task to manage Nobel’s fortune and fulfil his vision as specified in his Will .
Prize for Economic science was added much after the death of Alfred Nobel by Nobel foundation in the year 1968 constituted and funded by Sweden’s Central Bank called “ Sverings Riksbank “ awarded on behalf of Nobel foundation .
Mathematics , Music and lately computer science , are considered important omissions!
The Story behind the inception of Nobel prize, is indeed very interesting. It all started when Alfred Nobel’s lesser known elder brother died in the year 1888 the obituary notes which appeared in French newspapers where he was staying at that time and mistook him for the elder brother and harsh words were expressed such as “ Merchant of death “ referring to his discovery of Dynamite as agent of mass destruction . This pained Alfred Nobel immensely and made him to introspect and do something to assuage the feelings of his fellow countrymen and friends all over the world. Death of his younger brother while carrying out experiments in making of dynamite with him in an explosion also added to his frustration.
NOMINATION AND SELECTION PROCESS OF NOBEL LAUREATES
There is no system of self nomination . Nominators are carefully chosen and invited individually to suggest their choice with elaborate details . The entire process of short listing and the names under consideration are kept closely guarded secrets for the next 50 years ! Each year thousands of members of academia, University professors, Scientists, previous Nobel prize laureates and members of parliamentary assemblies and others, are carefully chosen for each speciality to submit the details about candidates , their specific achievements for the Nobel prizes for the coming year. These nominators are chosen in such a way that as many countries and experts from universities and academia are covered over time . This is done by different organisations for different specialties as specified for each field.
A Nobel prize can be shared by up to three individuals only and in case of Peace prize , can be awarded either to an organisation or an individual.
There is no age limits for the awardees however ,they have to be living at the time of announcement of the award. There is no place for posthumous award how so ever it may appear justified .
Youngest person ever to get the award till date remains Malala Yousafzai in the year 2014 for Peace and the oldest laureate has been Youngest person ever to get the award till date remains Malala Yousafzai in the year 2014 for Peace and the oldest laureate has been John B. Goodenough of University of Texas, USA at the age of 97 for the pioneering work in development of Lithium ion batteries in 2019 along with Britain’s Stanly Whittingham and Akira Yoshino from Japan !
Till date 989 individuals and 30 organisations have been conferred with Nobel prizes of which 400 have gone to USA followed by UK with 137 and 111 for Germany .
INDIANS AMONGST AWARDEES
There has been only 11 from India ( 4 Indian citizens and 7 of Indian ancestry or Residency ) . Amongst the recipients of Nobel prizes from India ,the first Indian who got this coveted prize was Rabindranath Tagore in 1913 for his much acclaimed collection of poems named GEETANJALI . Mother Teresa is the only woman from India who received Peace Nobel prize in the year 1979 . Kailash Satyarthi also received Peace Nobel in 2014 . Sir C V Raman got physics Nobel in 1930 for his pioneering work in the field of light scattering called Raman effects.
Dr S Chandrashekhar was the other notable physicist to have been recipient of physics Nobel prize in 1983 for his work in the field of Astrophysics.
Dr Amartya Sen was awarded economics Nobel in the year 1998 . In 2019 Abhijit Bannerji also received Economics Nobel prize.
Sir Hargobind khorana was the only Indian to have been conferred with Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for his path breaking work on structure of DNA way back in 1968 .
Controversies as expected always greeted this august prize committee’s choices however , it was never overwhelming enough and thus it could maintain its authenticity despite all odds till date.
Sri Aurobindo, the Indian poet philosopher was nominated twice for the award for literature in 1943 and for Peace in 1950.
On 1 December 1999 , the Norwegian Nobel committee confirmed that Mahatma Gandhi was unsuccessfully nominated for peace prize five times. In 2006 Geir Lundested , the secretary of Norwegian Nobel peace committee cited it as “the greatest omission in our 106 years history “
( Professor Jha is former head, Department of Medicine at RIMS, Ranchi )