For the year 2014, Kailash Satyarthi, 60,India and Malala Yousafzai, 17, Pakistan share this prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.
The second recipient of Nobel Peace Prize from India after Mother Teresa, (1979), Kailash Satyarthi has headed various peaceful protests to abolish child labour and has been at the forefront of worldwide movement against child slavery.
He has already been the recipient of various awards such as The Aachener International Peace Award from Germany in 1994, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award from US in 1995, recognized in the list of “Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery” by the US State Department in 2007.
An engineer turned social worker...
An electrical engineer from Madhya Pradesh, he worked as a lecturer in Bhopal for a few years after his post-graduation. In 1980, he gave up teaching to join the Bonded Labour Liberation Front as its Secretary General. In the same year, he founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan. He is credited with the rescue of over 80,000 children from all over the world from the brutality of child labour, and has been instrumental in their education and rehabilitation. He is the brain behind Global March Against Child Labour, a large civil society network to save exploited children and a coalition of various NGOs and unions worldwide, and the Global March Against Child Labour. The Global March that started in 1998 culminated in the adoption of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (Convention No. 182) at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference in Geneva, and now most countries of the world have ratified the Convention.
Satyarthi has also founded Rugmark, now known as GoodWeave, an international label against child labour in the carpet industry. It is a certification trademark that assures the buyers that the carpets bearing this label have been manufactured by companies that do not employ child labour.
Having survived numerous attacks during his missions to save children from slavery, Satyarthi maintains that the abolition of child slavery is a matter of upholding human rights; and that child slavery perpetuates poverty, population explosion and illiteracy, among other social evils. He holds dear the vision of ‘Education for All’.
On receiving news of the award, Satyarthi remarked that it was a great moment for all the children deprived of their childhood, education, health and their fundamental right to freedom. He also mentioned about the “End Child Slavery Week” that is about to be held from 20-26 November, 2014, organised by Global March Against Child Labour, which puts forth the demand that the “abolition of child slavery be incorporated into the post-2015 Development Agenda.”
Malala Yousafzai, often dubbed as the bravest girl in the world, became the youngest ever selected for Nobel Prize in any category. Born in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan in 1997, Yousafzai has been involved in female education activism even as a pre-teen. She wrote a blog for BBC Urdu under the pseudonym “Gul Makai”, detailing the life under Taliban occupation and on education for girls in the Swat Valley. The Taliban militants had banned girls from attending schools that time. Following this, a New York Times documentary was filmed on her.
Even as she was rising to prominence, there was trouble brewing for her. On 9 October 2012, she was shot in the head by a gunman, was in a critical condition and later recovered after undergoing medical treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, England. This attempt on her made her a global phenomenon drawing support from world over. On 15 October 2012, a UN petition was launched by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, a former British Prime Minister, demanding education for the 61 million out-of-school children worldwide by 2015, using the slogan “I am Malala.” During 2013, she spoke at the United Nations, Harvard University and met with the US President, Barack Obama.
Yousafzai wrote the memoir: I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban along with Christina Lamb, a British journalist, in October 2013. Named as one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World by the Time Magazine, she nurtures political ambitions to further uphold human rights.
On receiving news of the Nobel Prize, Yousafzai said that she was honoured to share it with Kailash Satyarthi. She said that everyone should fight for the rights of children, rights of women and for the rights of every human being. She is the only Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize recipient so far.
The awards have triggered the age-old argument from a few that the Nobel Peace Prize should not be awarded just for doing good humanitarian work, but for engaging in the original purpose for which Alfred Nobel instituted this award, namely, disarmament and keeping world peace. However, it would not be an exaggeration to say that universal education would certainly reduce crime and extremism, would promote peace and would change the world for the better.
The Nobel Prize for Medicine for the year 2014 is to awarded to three scientists: John O’Keefe, 75, a British-American scientist, May-Britt Moser, 51 and her husband Edvard I. Moser, 52 from Norway. The prize of $1.1 million will be shared by them: O’Keefe receives one half and the other half goes to the husband-and-wife duo.
For long, the scientific world has been trying to decipher the wonders of the brain and the nervous system, trying to learn how exactly the human brain thinks and what goes into the thought processes. Now we have inched a step closer to understanding that. The three scientists have figured out how the brain processes one’s position with respect to space and enables navigation, by discovering the cells in the brain that constitute the positioning system.
The Nobel Prize for Physics is to be awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, all three born in Japan, for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes that has led to energy-saving white light sources, more commonly known as LED lamps.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is to go to Eric Betzig (USA), Stefan W. Hell (Romania) and William E. Moerner (USA) for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy that brings optical microscopy to the nano-dimension. This technology will come in handy for cell and tissue imaging to provide further details of biological structures and processes, thereby helping understand diseases more, which will lead to development of new medicines and vaccines to cure them.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is to be given to Patrick Modiano from France for “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.” Some of his novels that have been translated into English are: Les boulevards de ceinture (Ring Roads), Quartier perdu (A Trace of Malice) and Voyage de noces (Honeymoon).
The Prize in Economic Sciences goes to Jean Tirole from France for his analysis of market power and regulation. This French Professor of Economics has authored ten books and hundreds of articles in economics and finance, and has researched on topics ranging from game theory and industrial organization to macroeconomics and international finance.