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Nobel Peace Prize Controversies and Mahatma Gandhi

Updated on September 18, 2013

What Is The Relation Between Nobel Peace Prize and Mahatma Gandhi

Whenever a prize is proclaimed or declared anywhere in the world, it is not a new thing for controversies & conflicts to follow regarding the qualifications or the right for the person who has won the prize. History is witness to the fact that Nobel Prize is also free from such controversies. After the forties each time the Nobel Peace Prize is declared there is always a question that arises. Why Mahatma Gandhi was never given Nobel Prize? Many disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, those who respected his ideologies, those who built up workshops similar to his were at sometime or the other found place in nominations or recommended for the Prize.

Both the American president Barack Obama who respected Gandhiji’s principles & Younus Mohammad from Bangladesh, who created an alternative method for economy stabilization to help the poor by introducing the idea to set up Grameen banks, received this honor. But this honor never came along Gandhiji’s way. Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Vangari that many....let us simply check why this happened.

The rules & regulations behind the prize that Gandhi did not receive & the award deciding committee’s take on the issue is very surprising .Five times Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Prize. In that only, three times he found place in the final list. But he did not receive the prize. Some of the jury’s views on this issue s like this; Mahatma Gandhi was a strong supporter of Indian Nationalism. Many times it felt like Jesus Christ, at the same time he was a normal politician. This is one limitation according to the Jury...

Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize, though he was nominated for it five times between 1937 and 1948.
Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace Prize, though he was nominated for it five times between 1937 and 1948.

How Nobel Prize is Decided ?

The Nobel Prize should be given to a person for his community works or to the leaders? The world criticized Theodore Roosevelt’s Nobel Prize by asking this question. Questions were also raised against the German Nobel Prize winner in 1935, Carl von Ossietzky. In the past he has become a prisoner of Hitler.

Another committee’s take on the issues are as follows; actually it is difficult to decide whether he was a politician, idealist, social worker, or person who worked only for world peace. Sometimes he was all these. Therefore the jury showed helplessness to judge him.

Gandhiji showed us the example of non-violence Satyagraha. A life example which is considered very difficult to follow. Gandhiji was considered for the Nobel Prize in the years 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947.The next year (1948) after which he was considered last for the Prize in ’47, he was shot dead.

An Award to Peace Activists or to Statesmen?

The first time his name was suggested for the Nobel Peace Prize, jury advisor Prof. Jacob von Mueller saw Gandhi’s nomination with criticism .According to him; Gandhi was a good, respectable human, no doubt. He had the ability to attract the crowds also. But the same time he was an example for the people, he was a freedom fighter also. When he was an example for the people with his principles, he stood as an Indian Nationalist. This was the criticism.

When he stood with Non-violence, simultaneously it lead to violence against the British. The Chowri-chowra incident that took place in 1920-21 is the example he puts forward to support that statement. In the incident many policemen were killed & the station was set on fire. When Gandhi used to stay in South Africa he used to fight for the Indians there.

When the blacks were suffering in South Africa, he did not raise his voice for them but only for the Indians in there. In that matter he did not work for World peace but he tried to become a complete Indian Nationalist. . From 1938 onwards Gandhi’s name got suggested consecutively three times. In the end when his name was suggested for the fourth time, India was enjoying her freedom.

The Nobel Committee Advisor Jens Arup Seip’s report was not as critical as that of Worm-Mueller. But his take on the matter was as follows; Gandhi had a very great personality. He was an example of various good qualities. But he would not be remembered as an apostle of peace, but as a true patriot. Many people hoped that the Gandhi would get the Nobel Prize in 1947. But it did not happen. In 1948 he became a martyr. In 1948 the Jury’s decision was that nobody was eligible for Nobel Prize in that year.

In that year Seip’s report goes like this; Gandhi, through his course of life, had put his profound mark on an ethical and political attitude which would prevail as a norm for a large number of people both inside and outside India. In this respect Gandhi can only be compared to the founders of religion. Even after his death, his name kept coming up in the Nobel Committee. That time they found another excuse. If he is selected for the Nobel Prize who will receive it on his behalf? He has not set up an institution or a community. He did not believe in money or riches. Therefore who will receive the same?

The Swedish academy held discussions with different people on this issue. Like that after his death also the Nobel Prize did not come his way. Gandhi who opposed the way of British rule was honoured later in Britain also. They were all ready to bring out a stamp in his remembrance. Then also the Nobel Committee did not understand. In the end, Gandhi’s name was first in a report published in the Foreign Policy Magazine (FP) about people who deserved the Prize & were not honoured with it.

The Nobel Prize jury has another astonishing finding which got Dalai Lama selected for the Nobel in 1989. The Jury’s words were that this Prize was also a remembrance for Mahatma Gandhi. It is a historical coincidence if the Nobel Prize received by Barack Obama this year has found place below one of the rare huge portrait of Gandhi hung in his office. It is important to note that because the prize was not given to Gandhi, whether Gandhi or the Nobel Prize itself became belittled.


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    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 4 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      Hi RK Sangha,

      Ya, What you said is very true. Gandhi is a real hero and what he has gained is much above a Nobel prize.

    • RK Sangha profile image

      RK Sangha 5 years ago from USA

      Gandhi was a saint, not looking for awards at all. Although he was not awarded noble peace prize, Gandhi is more known and admired than those who won the prize.

    • profile image

      PQ Arblefodnoid 5 years ago

      Gandhi also never won the Golden Boot. The man had no luck at all!

    • RK Sangha profile image

      RK Sangha 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks for a informatory hub and the comments. I think I agree more with the comments by S.R. Prabhu. Read my hub, "Why I say India needs a young Mahatma Gandhi ?"

    • profile image

      yashwardhan 6 years ago

      mahatma gandhi did not own a noble prize as he was not upto the level

    • profile image

      S. R.PRABHU 7 years ago

      The Nobel peace prize committee members did a favour to Mahatma Gandhi by not giving him the Nobel Peace prize, for

      Gandhiji would have been in a dilemma as to how to use the

      prize money. Gandhi would have been shocked to know that

      war-mongers are also given Nobel peace prize. Gandhiji was fortunate enough not to have been clubbed with some of the

      not-so -noble Nobel peace prize winners.

      S. Raghunatha Prabhu

      Amaraavathy Cottage



    • profile image

      susant  7 years ago

      Was it Gandhi not qualified for nobel prize or nobel prize not qualified for Gandhi?

    • VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA profile image

      VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA 7 years ago from India.

      This years' nobel prize has gone to a Chinese dissident, who has participated in the pro-democracy movement in 1989 in China. Eventhough there is no justification for the suppression of the movement by the Chinese government on 3-6-1989, we cannot interfere officially in those matters, as it is an internal matter of China. If the uprising crosses a limit and if the Chinese govt. is unable to tackle the situation, others can intervene and even offer armed assistance to the rebels. But that situation was tackled by China.

      Now, the dissident leader has been awarded nobel peace prize for 2010 for a thing which took place 21 years ago. It can now be understood how much indifferent the nobel committee is, in selecting the winners. They will learn a lesson only when all the awardees turn down the prizes.

    • VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA profile image

      VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA 7 years ago from India.

      Today (October 2) is Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. When independence came, he never wanted a divided India. But other Indian leaders sidelined him and was eager to get power from the British. So, on the day of independence, he did not stay in Delhi, but went to Calcutta and tried to help bring peace between the fighting Hindus and muslims. He had to go on fast to prevent Hindus from fighting with muslims. While Hindus heeded him and put and end to riots, Pakistan's raiders entered Kashmir to grab it from the Kashmir Maharaja. The Maharaja hurried to Delhi and signed the accession instrument with India.... And the communal strife switched over from individual rioting to state-sponsored rioting by Pakistani raiders. So, the last days of Mahatma Gandhi did not see a peaceful atmosphere. At least now, we should not disturb his soul by creating controversies. We Indians should not expect any favour in the form of prizes. Others should identify the most eligible person and then award the prizes... But Nobel prize seldom pick up the right persons. Controversial persons with anti-government sentiments in their countries in Russia, Chile, etc. were picked up to embarrass those countries.

      So, we should take it that Gandhi himself was a nobel prize for the whole of India.

    • VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA profile image

      VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA 7 years ago from India.

      I feel Nobel Foundation should be awarded Gandhi Peace Prize. Because they would have thought Gandhi will refuse to accept the Prize. Gandhi has shunned any award or any position in the Govt. of India when independence came in 1947.

    • profile image

      akmeitei 7 years ago

      I acutlly got confused. Was it Gandhi not qualified for nobel prize or nobel prize not qualified for Gandhi?

    • VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA profile image

      VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA 7 years ago from India.

      Mahatma Gandhi is too tall to think that he was deprived of Nobel prize. The respect of one billion people earned by him is larger than that small nobel prize.

      A few nations think that Indians need no such respect and denying them their honours will make them heroes. A year before, an Indian filed nomination for the post of UN Sec. General, but America thwarted that attempt fulfilled their "great ambitions" of degrading India.

      Mrs.Indira Gandhi, who presided over a large country, larger than Europe and Americas, was also deprived of nobel honours when she was nominated for that prize. I, as an Indian do not think anything more than being called Indian will be a real honour.

    • profile image

      Alok  7 years ago

      Nobel Prize not given to gandhiji is a shame to nebel prize itself. Nobody for peace is so high as gandhiji. He is above prizes.

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 7 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      controversies are never ends....

    • zinneryone profile image

      zinneryone 7 years ago from Plano, TX

      It is interesting how controversy have been a part of the nobel for so long. Good hub

    • profile image

      Yashi 7 years ago

      It is merely dirty politics and lobbying behind this tragic fact of Gandhiji not winning.

      PS-@Jeff: Mathematicians are NEVER awarded Nobel Prize...why? check out yourself...its a hilarious story!!!

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 8 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      Yes, it is, Chef Jeff ...

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      I am often amazed at the people who win this award. Other Nobel Awards go to scientists, mathematicians, writers, philosophers, others in many widely different fields. Gandhi is the hero of billions of people, and maybe that is a better award after all.


      Chef Jeff

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 8 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      I don't believe it is difficult for Nobel committee, but it's a matter of making sensible choice

      If they don't choose right person for Nobel Prize then what is relevance of such committee

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      It is an historic sad that Mahatma Gandhi did not honored with Nobel Prize. It is not a dishonor to Gandhi but to the Nobel committee itself because Gandhi did not require to be honored by Nobel Prize as he already got the world recognition for his nonviolence movement in South Africa and India as well.