In the latest issue of Outlook, the Bangalore-based historian Ramachandra Guha uses an academic trip to Norway to pen an Oslo diary.
In his first week at the University, Guha speaks at the Nobel Peace Institute where he points out the glaring discrepancy of The Prize not being awarded to the apostle of peace, Mahatma Gandhi:
“After my talk, a lady comes up and introduces herself as a doctor, and an advisor to the Peace Institute. The names I had mentioned were all very good, she said, but surely it was time that the peace prize went to an Indian? She mentions the name of a fellow townsman of mine, a man who has grown long hair, given himself four fancy initials (HH/SS), and whose name is also that of a very great exponent of the sitar.
“The Norwegian doctor had heard that this man had brought peace to Kashmir, and had promoted organic agriculture in thousands of Indian villages. She had been asked to promote his candidacy for the prize, and indeed the man himself had been to Oslo several times recently. She asked me if I would give my opinion on the matter.
“I answered that so far as I knew, there was no peace in Kashmir. I observed that what the West refers to as ‘organic farming’ we knew as rain-fed agriculture—and that it is nothing new…. Finally, I suggested to the doctor that if not giving Gandhi the prize was a scandal, awarding it to my fellow townsman would be an even bigger scandal.”