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Why Was Gandhi Never Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

gandhi.jpgWhy the Nobel Peace Prize never went to Gandhiji ? We did some research, and found startling surprises.

Mohandas Gandhi, the Mahatma, “the Great Soul“, was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was nominated for it five times in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and, finally, a few days before he was murdered in January 1948. It is widely held, that the Indian national leader should have been the very man to be selected for the Nobel Peace Prize.

These questions have been asked frequently: Was the horizon of the Norwegian Nobel Committee too narrow? Were the committee members unable to appreciate the struggle for freedom among non-European peoples?” Or were the Norwegian committee members perhaps afraid to make a prize award which might be detrimental to the relationship between their own country and Great Britain?

Marthin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli considered Gandhi to be their mentor. If there was one person you had to name who personified peace and non-violence in the 20th century, it has to be Mahatma Gandhi. So Why Was Gandhi Never Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Following are the little history of Gandhi’s nominations and rejections

First Nomination:

First time, in 1937 a member of the Norwegian Storting, Ole Colbjørnsen (Labour Party), nominated Gandhi for that year’s Nobel Peace Prize, and he was duly selected as one of thirteen candidates on the Committee’s short list. The committee’s adviser, professor Jacob Worm-Müller, wrote a report , “He is, undoubtedly, a good, noble and ascetic person – a prominent man who is deservedly honoured and loved by the masses of India.” On the other hand, when considering Gandhi as a political leader, he wrote, “sharp turns in his policies, which can hardly be satisfactorily explained by his followers. (…) He is a freedom fighter and a dictator, an idealist and a nationalist. He is frequently a Christ, but then, suddenly, an ordinary politician.” He added “One might say that it is significant that his well-known struggle in South Africa was on behalf of the Indians only, and not of the blacks whose living conditions were even worse.”

Second , Third Nomination:

Again in 1938 and 1939 Gandhi was renominated by Ole Colbjørnsen, but ten years were to pass before Gandhi made the committee’s short list again.

Fourth Nomination:

After 10 years, in 1947 the nominations of Gandhi for the fourth time by the Norwegian Foreign Office. The Nobel Committee’s adviser Seip wrote, “The following ten years from 1937 up to 1947, led to the event which for Gandhi and his movement was at the same time the greatest victory and the worst defeat – India’s independence and India’s partition.” Seip also wrote briefly on the ongoing separation of India and the new Muslim state, Pakistan, and concluded – rather prematurely it would seem today and Gandhi’s nomination was rejected.

Final Nomination:

The last time Mahatma Gandhi was nominated was in 1948, but he was assassinated on 30 January 1948, two days before the closing date for that year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominations. But according to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation in force at that time, the Nobel Prizes could, under certain circumstances, be awarded posthumously(occurring after one’s death:). Thus it was possible to give Gandhi the prize. However, Gandhi did not belong to an organisation, he left no property behind and no will; who should receive the Prize money? The Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, August Schou, asked another of the Committee’s advisers, lawyer Ole Torleif Røed, to consider the practical consequences if the Committee were to award the Prize posthumously. Røed suggested a number of possible solutions for general application. Subsequently, he asked the Swedish prize-awarding institutions for their opinion. The answers were negative; posthumous awards, they thought, should not take place unless the laureate died after the Committee’s decision had been made.

On November 18, 1948, the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to make no award that year on the grounds that “there was no suitable living candidate“.

Publicly regression by the Nobel Committee.

The omission has been publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee; when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in 1989, the chairman of the committee said that this was “in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi“. Unfortunately, people who deserve the prize often don’t get it.

[ Reference : nobelprize.org –  Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate ]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Abhi August 16, 2007, 8:40 am

    there was no precedent of awarding the Prize posthumously till 1974. ..Good article

  • Anand August 16, 2007, 9:11 am

    Nice Article. Keep up the good work

  • Raj Ramanujam August 16, 2007, 7:56 pm

    Why Was Gandhi Never Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is a 20th century controversy..

  • James August 23, 2007, 6:46 am

    Gandhi wasn’t awarded the price because the then members of the Noble committee didn’t have full support for Gandhi and his work plus awarding the price to him might strain Norway’s ties with Britain.

  • Vijay September 11, 2007, 7:48 pm

    Good one

  • Pradeep chauhan November 8, 2007, 11:59 am

    If they didnt awarded the Noble Prize in Peace to Mahatama Gandhi ji, this award has no meaning.But how can they rectify thier mistake now?

  • person December 12, 2007, 10:47 am

    the butcher doesn’t deserve darned nobel. he engineered the split of the nation into two parts. and was responsible for the largescale loss of life that followed. he really did deserve to die, to be assassinated.

  • Vela April 29, 2008, 11:07 pm

    It is sad though that Gandhi, had he leaved, he would have been awarded the prize because he didn’t deserve it, in my view. Not only did he not fight for the black south african community, he fought against them, in Bambatha kaMancinza uprisings. He referred to black people in deregatory terms. My mama brought us up and had us believe that gandhi was a man of peace but when I started reading his collected works a new picture started forming. I wonder how much of the 1949 hatred between blacks and Indians in Durban that lead to death of no lesser than 149 people can be traced back to him?

  • Hussain July 24, 2008, 4:22 pm

    Gandhiji deseved the Nobleprize so also a lot of good people well, our prayers are with him.

  • Noble is a Joke December 8, 2008, 4:05 am

    A finish got Noble peace prize because Finland is Norway neighbor and also he is viking. Otherwise Finns are hostile people.

  • Himanshu June 20, 2009, 7:19 am

    Gandhi does not want Noble peace prize, Noble peace prize want Gandhi

  • anand jagani July 17, 2009, 9:49 am

    Gandhi ji was and is much and much higher than noble prize.

  • Anon July 18, 2009, 2:09 pm

    It is a common courtesy that one should acknowledge one’s sources. This article takes it content (almost verbatim) from the Nobel website on this matter, but not once does it acknowledge it. It is perhaps good to bring to fore these topics, but make sure you acknowledge your sources.

  • shri October 10, 2009, 12:27 pm

    i just want to know what has baraaak husaaaiin obaaama done in one year which gandhiji could not do in his lifetime of 79 years.this makes mockery of the prize itself.this award had become a political tool to please people.a person should be judged by what he has already achieved,and not by what he inten ds to achieve.

  • shri October 10, 2009, 12:34 pm

    i also want this earth to be free of dirty politics,free of dirty wars,should be full of good people…..and so on….. i think this intension is enough for a nobel peace prize… so i can expect a peace prize in the coming year

  • Tokyo December 10, 2009, 8:55 am

    This article is copy pasted from the Nobel Peace Website.

  • bansi December 16, 2009, 2:05 pm

    why is it so easy to place blame when you have no merit to your name.
    i can see the envy dripping in some of the earlier posts and i have one question to ask: what have you done for your community, country, etc.???

  • Shashank May 20, 2010, 6:47 am

    In hindsight its good that he never got a nobel because Mahatma Gandhi was too big for a prize like this. No prize can do justice to the life and work of a man like him. As Einstein said, World has not seen and will perhaps never see a man like him, ever.

    Here’s one more interesting article on this topic.


  • Rajesh August 17, 2010, 1:53 am

    Gandhi is not only a great person but also a great sole. That is the mistake of Noble prize committee do not give the Noble prize to Gandhi.

  • anit-person August 20, 2010, 5:12 am

    reply to person’s remark – he is not a butcher u idiot ..he never wanted the partition of his motherlan ..its jawaharlal nehru vs jinnah’s fight for 1st prime minister’s hot seat . If ther we wre to blame anyone ….than they are none other than our ancestors…who were so illiterate that they never foresaw the consequence..assholes

  • baghabayen November 16, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Chill !!!

    Doesn’t matter whether Gandhi got this prize or not. Gandhi and Peace and Non-violence are synonym for each other. NPP have lost the privilege of Gandhi being called its laureate. I think – Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli and lately Obama calling Gandhi their role model actually makes Gandhi a scale or unit of measuring your faith on non violence. NPP is just a recognition of the person topping that scale for a given year.
    By the way, we Indians are kind of people who just love to work silently and don’t want do any hue and cry about our achievements.
    Like the invention of Zero. Invention of Numeric system, invention of surgery, grammar, astrology, astro-physics, mathemetics; invention of military formations like Padmavyuha or Chakravyuha, invention of Ayurveda, Yoga and negetive munbers.
    We had people like Chanakya, Ashoke and kings like Puru who stopped the mighty Alexander. Gandhi is just another name is the long list.
    We are not a nation who waits for rewards or recognitions for what we did. We do things because its in larger interest of human kind. Like Non Violence.